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The latest RFU update on 'agreed' England player hybrid contracts

By Liam Heagney
Jamie George and England celebrate their win over Wales (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Performance director Conor O’Shea has insisted that plans are still very much on track for the RFU’s introduction of hybrid contracts to upwards of 25 players in Steve Borthwick’s England squad.

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Negotiations about the provision of a fixed fee top-up of about £160,000 per player in addition to their Gallagher Premiership club contracts have been ongoing since the Rugby World Cup, but an official completion of the deal has yet to be confirmed.

The proposed top-up for the 2024/25 season hasn’t been enough to keep the likes of Owen Farrell, Kyle Sinckler and others playing their club rugby in England, as they have organised moves to France which will make them ineligible for Test squad selection by Borthwick.

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New England skipper Jamie George and his Saracens clubmate Maro Itoje did sign extended club deals in mid-December to remain in the Premiership for the foreseeable future, but their RFU top-up has yet to be officially signed off.

Hybrid contracts are the most significant aspect of the new professional game partnership [PGP] between the RFU and Premiership Rugby.

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They will reportedly enable the RFU to have more of a say over the 25 players expected to be included in an elite England squad, reviewing their development plans every month.

Asked if there was a delay in signing off the proposed deal, O’Shea, the RFU’s high-performance director, explained: “The agreement is there, the new PGP starts on July 1, so nothing can start before then anyway.

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“There is a lot of work in other areas ongoing, but we can’t do anything until the new PGP is in place from the start of next season.

“It’s linked to the PGB, to be honest. I sat down after training at Twickenham on Wednesday with four to six senior players and Steve just to talk through timings and everything like that. The concepts and the principles of all these things have been agreed.

“We obviously have to do the deal and sign off the PGB. Hopefully, it will be really collaborative and something that will be a step forward for English rugby.”

Borthwick’s England have opened their latest Guinness Six Nations campaign with back-to-back wins in the opening two rounds for the first time since 2019. Their next match is away to Scotland on February 24.

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