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RFU to introduce full-time contracts for England Women

11:54 am, 17th September 2018

The proposals, which were agreed at an RFU board meeting last Wednesday, will see 28 full-time contracts made available to England Women from January 1.

These contracts will be supplemented by seven elite player squad (EPS) agreements, meaning the EPS will consist of 35 women.

RFU chief executive Steve Brown said: “We are delighted to be able to offer full-time contracts to our 15s players.

“This has long been our ambition and demonstrates the RFU’s commitment to growing the women’s game and the belief we have in the future of the sport.

“We are at a tipping point for women’s rugby globally and it is our ambition to be world number one and drive growth at every level.

“As an organisation, from top to bottom, we are very much behind this and want to see the continued expansion and growth to realise the ambitious targets we have set ourselves.”

The Quilter Internationals in November, when England will host USA, Canada and Ireland, will be played under the existing EPS agreement.

Under its women and girls strategy, the RFU is planning to double the number of female participants in rugby by 2021.

This will be achieved by increasing the number of women’s teams by more than 75 per cent to 800, the number of active women’s clubs to more than 400, while also getting more women involved in rugby as referees, coaches and volunteers.

With immediate effect, the squad will be based Bisham Abbey National Sports Centre during core periods, providing a permanent base within a high-performance training centre.

RFU director of professional rugby Nigel Melville said: “As a union we want to lead the way for driving standards in women’s rugby through everything we do.

“Full-time contracts are a big step in ensuring we have the access to players to develop them and fulfil their potential.

“Bisham Abbey is a world-class training facility and it’s a great opportunity to have a permanent base and use of their facilities.”