By Rosie Foley
After the 2017 World Cup, England women’s XV’s squad contracts were not renewed which came as a controversial view. With the RFU focusing on sevens rugby, in August they awarded 17 women full time England women’s contracts. However, they announced today that as from next January there will be 28 full time contracts available to England Women.
The chief executive of the RFU said that ‘We are delighted to be able to offer full-time contracts to our 15s players’ he also added that it ‘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’.
This is a step in the right direction for both the domestic and international level. This season the Tyrrells Premier 15’s has been developed into a league that now should be taken seriously as a top women’s rugby league with even some of the games being aired on Sky Sports. The introduction of these new full time contracts means that all England players will be able to play for their clubs in the Tyrrells Premier 15’s and then return to the RFU for international duty – like a true professional rugby player.
This can only mean growth for women’s rugby as Nigel Melville, RFU director of professional rugby commented that ‘As a union we want to lead the way for driving standards in women’s rugby’. He added that ‘Full time contracts are a big step in ensuring we have the access to players to develop them and fulfil their potential’.
Hopefully the next step forward for RFU women’s rugby is full time contracts for all women who play in the Tyrrell Premier 15’s, it may be a long time until it happens but Women’s rugby in England is making positive steps to becoming fully professional.