The Rugby Football Union (RFU) is to introduce women’s full-time 15s contracts this season, with the new deal coming into effect from January 1st.
There will be 28 full-time contracts available to England Women in the 15-a-side game while the Quilter Internationals will be played under the existing elite player squad (EPS) agreement.
The 28 contracts will be supplemented by seven EPS agreements, meaning a total EPS of 35.
“We are delighted to be able to offer full-time contracts to our 15s players,” said RFU chief executive Steve Brown.
“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.”
With immediate effect, the squad will be based at Bisham Abbey National Sports Centre during core periods, providing a permanent base within a high-performance training centre.
Under its women and girls strategy, the RFU plans to double the number of participants by 2021, increase the number of women’s teams by more than 75% to 800, the number of active women’s clubs to more than 400 and get more women involved in the sport as referees, coaches and volunteers.
“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”, Brown added.
“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.”