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IRFU expected to announce first professional contracts for women's 15 players

News of the new contracts is expected to be confirmed in the coming weeks.

Ireland captain Nichola Fryday.
Ireland captain Nichola Fryday.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Updated Jul 28th 2022, 5:01 PM

THE IRFU ARE expected to announce a string of professional contracts for players on both the 15s and Sevens women’s national squads, a move which will see Irish women’s 15s players contracted for the first time.

Previously, only Sevens players had been contracted by the Union.

In April, IRFU CEO Kevin Potts stated that contracts for 15s players would be considered as soon as the Union had appointed its Head of Women’s Performance & Pathways, a new role which stems from the independent review into the Ireland’s failure to qualify for this year’s World Cup. 

A report in The Irish Times today indicates that over 40 new contracts are set to be confirmed in the coming weeks, adding that the appointment of a Head of Women’s Performance and Pathways is also imminent.

An IRFU spokesperson told The42 that while there are no details available yet, the Union hopes to be in a position to provide further details in the weeks ahead. 

An announcement is anticipated ahead of Ireland’s two-Test tour of Japan next month, with Greg McWilliams’ side set to play the Cherry Blossoms on 20 and 27 August.

The IRFU had come under increased pressure to further back the women’s game following a difficult year for the women’s 15s squad in 2021.

Last September, Adam Griggs’ squad missed out on qualification for the Rugby World Cup by losing to both Spain and Scotland at a qualifier tournament in Italy.

The fallout of that disappointment led to an independent review which made 30 specific recommendations to the IRFU to improve women’s rugby. The IRFU formally accepted all 30 recommendations and said it would invest an additional €1 million into women’s rugby annually.

Ireland are the last of the Women’s Six Nations countries to offer professional contracts to 15s players.

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First published today at 15.34

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Ciarán Kennedy

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