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EXCLUSIVE: Details of England women's lucrative new deal revealed

By Chris Jones
New Zealand and England contest the Women’s Rugby World Cup final

England’s women’s players will take their match fee earnings to nearly £2,000 in just five days when they face Canada in the second of their three match series at the Twickenham Stoop in London tomorrow night under a new deal thrashed out with the Rugby Football Union.

It is understood the deal agreed by the RFU, the Rugby Players Association and the women’s players’ representatives gives the match squad £900 per international and £1400 for signing the Elite Player Squad agreement which involves 35 players and there are scheduled to be eight matches this season. England defeated Canada 79-5 in the first test and will complete the series at Twickenham on Saturday.

The deal follows the ending of one year full-time contracts that were handed out to England players leading into this year’s Women’s World Cup which saw England beaten by New Zealand in the final. The RFU, the richest Union in the sport, is pumping millions of pounds into a new club league and plans to expand the women’s game but insists the 15-a side players, at present, do warrant full-time contracts and are concentrating on Sevens in the build up to that World Cup.

The new deal still leaves the England women a considerable way behind Dylan Hartley and the England men who pocket £22,000 a match. Samoa, who will play in front of 80,000 fans against England at Twickenham on Saturday can only look enviously at both the English men’s and women’s squads as their Pacific Islands Union is bankrupt. The Samoa players are due to receive £650 a match and the RFU has made a £75,000 goodwill donation to try and help their Union.

Damian Hopley, CEO of the Rugby Players Association, believes this is a significant moment for the women’s game in England and said:” This is a one year groundbreaking deal that is taking us in the right direction. Of course we wish there was more money but you have to look at the broader picture and the money that is being put into the women’s game. We will start the process earlier so there is a longer run-up to the next deal. This has been, for everyone, a complicated process and we have be going into unchartered territory and some curve balls have been thrown up.

“A lot of the players are still working full time and so it is a very different model for us to deal with. Those players have to take time off work, get cover and so this isn’t a case of putting money in your back pocket. Some of the women players have to pay for cover or supply teachers.

“It is very different from the deal agreed for the men. The player representatives did a brilliant job for the squad and it not a straight forward situation with some players who are students, others in full-time employment, therefore there is a discrepancy in terms of the model because not everyone is in the same employment situation. It is a start and that is the important thing.”

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Turlough 5 hours ago
Jean de Villiers' three word response to 'best in the world' debate

This ‘raging’ debate is only happenning in media circles and has never been a topic in Ireland (although SA media are interested). It makes the media companies money I guess. SA are RWC champions and #1 ranked team although Ireland are back within a point there. The facts point to SA. For a lot of 2021 France beat ALL their rivals and Ireland similar in 2022-2023. It is not wrong to say that on such form either can be deemed to be the current best team if they have beaten all their rivals and ranked #1. The ‘have to have won a world cup’ stipulation is nonsense. The world cup draw and scheduling has been tailored to the traditional big teams since the start. The scheduling also which sees the big teams sheltered from playing a hard pool match the week before has also been a constant. It is extraordinary that for example France have made so many finals. Ireland who were realistically only contenders in 2023 were in a Pool with two other top 5 teams and had to play one of them 7 days before a quarter final against France or New Zealand. Always going to be a coin toss. Scotland’s situation was worse. New Zealand had great chances in 1995, 1999, 2007 but they could not win a tight RWC match. The first tight match they ever won was versus France in the 2011 final, literally they lost every other tight match before that. Some of those NZ teams around that era were #1 surely?

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