England women’s team sign professional contracts with RFU

In Ireland the XV game is completely amateur with no plans to move to a paid model

The English Rugby Football Union has become the latest organisation to offer their women’s team full-time professional contracts.

Under the new agreement the 28 squad members from the England XV team will be employed full-time will be supplemented by seven separate EPS deals, meaning a total EPS of 35.

The move follows on from a similar agreement recently passed in New Zealand which broke new ground for the women’s game.

England had previously funded a professional women's XV ahead of last year's Rugby World Cup, however that funding was then diverted to rugby sevens.

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But, following its meeting on Wednesday, the RFU Board supported the proposal, which will come into effect on January 1st with the autumn’s Quilter Internationals played under the elite player squad (EPS) agreement.

In Ireland the XV game is completely amateur with no plans to move to a paid model, while only a small number of sevens players receive any payment at all.

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.”