RFU Announces England Women's Rugby World Cup Winners To Be Paid To Play
England's women rugby players are to be paid for the first time following the team's World Cup success in what has been described as a "significant step forward" for the women's game, according to Claire Duffin of the London TELEGRAPH. Twenty players "have been handed professional contracts, allowing them to train full time." The squad "included a plumber, a vet, a lifeguard, several teachers and students, who all trained in their spare time for no pay." Twelve of the women involved in the successful Rugby World Cup squad, including captain Katy Mclean, "are among the women to be given contracts, which will start next month." They "are all now expected to give up their day jobs" (TELEGRAPH, 8/25). The BBC reported the RFU said that "the one-year contracts would be awarded on an annual basis." All 20 contracted players "will train full-time at Twickenham and at Surrey Sports Park in Guildford." They will compete in the '14-15 IRB Women's Sevens World Series, "at which England will attempt to qualify for the Rio Olympics on behalf of Great Britain." Danielle Waterman "gave up her job at an RFU academy for 16-18-year-olds in Gloucester last November to focus on the World Cup." She said, "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." Their training program, led by Sevens coach Simon Middleton and RFU Women's Performance Head Nicola Ponsford, "will include strength and conditioning work, as well as medical, nutritional, lifestyle and psychological support." Ponsford "declined to reveal how much players would be paid," but said that "those giving up their jobs would receive adequate financial support" (BBC, 8/26). In London, Sarah Ebner wrote Ponsford admitted that "some may not find this to be financially rewarding." Ponsford: "I would say that some of them may face a drop in their salary. Essentially what this does is allow them to live, train and compete effectively." Ponsford admitted that there was a "certain amount of nervousness" about people giving up their jobs for full-time sport. Ponsford: "It’s almost a leap of faith from both sides" (LONDON TIMES, 8/25).