England women’s internationals are paid directly by the RFU, with salaries worth in the region of £20,000 to £30,000. However, Premiership clubs are now allowed to pay women’s players directly, although payments are subject to a salary cap.
However, the salary cap is currently set at just £60,000, for an entire squad. This works out at a very modest £1,500 per player per season, just 0.9 per cent of the current Gallagher Premiership men’s salary cap of £6.4 million (plus £600,000 academy credits), which will be reduced to £5 million for season 2021/22.
Waterman, who won 82 caps for England as a full-back and played in three World Cup finals, doesn’t believe the cap is fit for purpose. Writing in a column in TheXV, she states: “We’re now into a new three-year process where players are starting to get paid by their clubs, not just country.
“Fantastic. However, the RFU have cottoned on to the fact two clubs are totally dominant so they’ve imposed a salary cap of £60,000. This isn’t per player. This is for a squad of 40 players for the entire season.
“This seemingly was put in place to try and ensure the movement of England players away from the two big hitters, but this has not happened. Frustratingly and somewhat ironically, the vast majority of clubs are having major problems keeping under the cap, so surely this has to be reviewed at their earliest convenience?
“It’s an unnecessary blocker to moving towards a semi-professional game. Why only £60,000?”
Yet the cap is just one of a number of issues that she lays out in her column in TheXV, which amounts to a scathing critique of how the RFU are managing the womens’ game.
“The RFU are saying they’re supporting the growth of the elite game but when I first started my career 15 years ago there was a senior academy, an A-side and a senior side – it was an elite pathway. Over the years I’ve seen that stripped back to a couple of fixtures with the national academy and U20s, if players are lucky.”
“It’s hard not to get fed-up.”
You can read this column in full at TheXV.rugby, a new, ad-free website dedicated to premium rugby content.
Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.Sign Up Now