- Twenty players sign full-time sevens contracts from September 2014
- “Fantastic news for the sport” – WRWC winning captain Katy Mclean
Photo: Getty Images
England Women’s Sevens players will be professional athletes after signing full-time contracts with the Rugby Football Union for the upcoming season.
On the back of the fabulous World Cup win over Canada in Paris, there is further good news for the future of the women’s in this country with a squad of 20 players competing on the IRB Sevens World Series circuit and seeking qualification for Great Britain for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
The squad – including 12 Women’s Rugby World Cup winners – will train five days a week (excluding tournament time) at Twickenham Stadium and Surrey Sports Park in Guildford from this September.
The all-encompassing programme, led by Head Coach Simon Middleton and the RFU’s Head of Women’s Performance Nicola Ponsford, will also include strength and conditioning, medical, nutritional, lifestyle and psychological support.
Players will be awarded the central contracts on a yearly basis and they will still be expected to play international XVs and Premiership rugby.
Photo: Getty Images
England’s World Cup winning captain Katy Mclean said: “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. I am extremely excited about this new challenge and where this full time programme can take us as an England team.”
Ponsford added: “We are really excited by the opportunity and feel that this will enable us to compete on a global level.
“The inclusion of Sevens in the Olympics has meant that a significant number of sides we are competing against have been full time for a year or more. We have been planning to do this for some time but we needed to make sure that we could focus on the 2014 Rugby World Cup while also ensuring we had the building blocks in place to guarantee that a full time programme is effective.
“With two years to go until the Olympics we felt this was the right time to move forward.”
The RFU is currently finalising the next phase of its Performance Strategy to take the England Women’s squads through to, and beyond, the 2016 Olympics Games and the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup.
Ponsford added: “We will carefully consider the amount of time we need to have with both 15s and Sevens players over this period to ensure that we are in the best place to not only retain the 2017 Rugby World Cup but challenge effectively in Sevens also.
“Both of these goals are of the utmost importance. We need to ensure that the foundations are in place through the RFU Player Pathway, the domestic game and international programme to ensure a long-term sustainable and successful game for both 15s and Sevens rugby.”
England Women's Sevens squad
*Claire Allan (Richmond)
*Natasha Brennan (Richmond)
*Rachael Burford (Thurrock)
Abigail Chamberlain (Richmond)
*Heather Fisher (Worcester)
Francesca Matthews (Richmond)
Sarah McKenna (Saracens)
*Katy Mclean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks)
*Marlie Packer (Wasps)
*Emily Scarratt (Lichfield)
Michaela Staniford (Wasps)
*Danielle Waterman (Bristol)
Joanne Watmore (Richmond)
Amy Wilson-Hardy (Bristol)
*Natasha Hunt (Lichfield)
*Alexandra Matthews (Richmond)
*Katherine Merchant (Worcester)
Leanne Riley (Saracens)
Emily Scott (Thurrock)
*Kay Wilson (Bristol)
*Denotes 2014 Rugby World Cup winner