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IRFU statement: 43 women's player contracts worth up to €30,000

By PA
(Photo by John Dickson/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

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The IRFU have announced it will offer 43 centralised contracts to elite Ireland women’s players next season and appoint Gillian McDarby as head of women’s performance and pathways. The contracts, which include agreements already in place for members of the women’s sevens programme, have been benchmarked internationally and will be worth up to €30,000 (£25,234), plus match fees and bonuses.

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The news comes after the women’s game in Ireland was affected by a series of high-profile gaffes in recent years.

CEO Kevin Potts said in a statement: “The creation of up to 43 IRFU contracts for women’s players is a further strong signal of our intent to foster and grow the women’s game over the coming years and to ensure that our women’s players are provided with the best opportunities to compete at the highest levels of the game in the future.”

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McDarby, who was appointed following an “extensive recruitment process”, will be responsible for the development and delivery of the governing body’s performance programme for the women’s game, including XVs and sevens.

She will work to grow the playing base of young women and girls and be tasked with developing a “cohesive player pathway” which connects and feeds the needs of both national programmes.

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The former elite cyclist has held various previous roles with the IRFU, including women’s rugby national teams programme manager between 2014 and 2016, having also been women’s national team manager and a director for Cycling Ireland. “I believe there is a huge growth opportunity for the women’s game in Ireland and I am looking forward to working with all stakeholders to bring the women’s game to the next level,” said McDarby.

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“It is also pleasing that my appointment coincides with the formal announcement of contracts for up to 43 female players. This is a major step forward for women’s rugby in Ireland.”

Due to this month’s Test matches in Japan and the Sevens World Cup in September in South Africa, the IRFU will wait to discuss contract details with players before publicising further information.

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