Rugby Union

England Women's Sevens squad to turn professional

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England Women's Sevens squad will be paid for the first time (©GettyImages)
England Women's Sevens squad will be paid for the first time (©GettyImages).

England Women's Sevens squad will be paid for the first time after the Rugby Football Union announced they will turn professional, reports BBC Sport.

The RFU will give one-year contracts to 20 players - including 12 members of the squad that won the Women's Rugby World Cup with a victory over Canada last weekend.

'Fantastic News'

In a huge move for women's sport as a whole, and the players will be offered contracts on an annual basis and will train full-time starting in September.

15-a-side captain Katy Mclean - who is a primary school teacher by trade - hailed the news and said in the report: "This is fantastic news for the sport and exactly what we need as an England squad to continue to be at the top of our sport on a global scale."

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Step forward

The news represents a step forward for the women's game as the World Cup winners were made up entirely of part-time players - including a plumber and a vet - and they trained for no pay.

They will compete in the IRB Women's Sevens World Series, where they will attempt to qualify on Great Britain's behalf for the Rio Olympics, and they will also be expected to play Women's Premiership rugby and 15-a-side internationals.

Danielle Waterman, who was a key factor in the recent World Cup win, believes the RFU should take a lot of credit after a long period of hard work.

She told BBC Radio Five Live: "These contracts haven't happened overnight. The RFU has been working towards this for at least as long as I've been involved with England, which is 11 years.

"It has cost a substantial amount of money to do it and the RFU is providing that support, which is brilliant."

Financial commitment

The move also means that players will no longer have to work in their day jobs as they will be provided with adequate financial support as a result of the deal.

Nicola Ponsford, head of women's performance for the RFU, declined to reveal the exact amount the players will earn as part of their contracts, but said: "The RFU doesn't disclose salaries, so we're not going reveal amounts. But we are going to work with every player to make sure everyone is sorted out financially and can focus on training.

"We want the players to be able to commit to this without having to worry that they're not going to make ends meet."

Full list of 20 contracted players: Claire Allan (Richmond), Katherine Merchant (Worcester), Natasha Brennan (Richmond), Marlie Packer (Wasps), Rachael Burford (Thurrock), Abigail Chamberlain (Richmond), Leanne Riley (Saracens), Abigail Chamberlain (Richmond), Emily Scarratt (Lichfield), Heather Fisher (Worcester), Emily Scott (Thurrock), Natasha Hunt (Lichfield), Michaela Staniford (Wasps), Alexandra Matthews (Richmond), Danielle Waterman (Bristol), Francesca Matthews (Richmond), Joanne Watmore (Richmond), Sarah McKenna (Saracens), Kay Wilson (Bristol), Katy Mclean (Darlington), Amy Wilson-Hardy (Bristol).

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