England Women given central contracts for first time
ESPN Staff
August 25, 2014
Emily Scarratt is one of England's World Cup stars receiving a central contract © Getty Images

England's top female players will be paid for the first time as the England Women's Sevens squad are handed full-time contracts by the RFU.

Twelve of those who were involved in England's Rugby World Cup victory will be among the 20 players receiving funding. The squad will compete on the IRB Sevens World Series circuit this season as they seek qualification as Great Britain for the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

The programme will see the England players train five days a week throughout the season, excluding tournament time, at Twickenham and Surrey Sports Park in Guildford. Their training will 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.

England's World Cup winning captain Katy Mclean, one of the 20 players selected on the programme, 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."

The programme will be run by the RFU's head of women's performance Nicola Ponsford and England Women's Sevens head coach Simon Middleton, who was part of the Rugby World Cup winning coaching team. Middleton will be assisted by coaching staff from the England Women's set-up.

"We are delighted to be able to offer a full time Sevens programme for next season," Ponsford said. "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 XVs Rugby World Cup whilst also ensuring we had the building blocks in place to guarantee that a fulltime programme is effective. With two years to go until the 2016 Olympics Games we felt this was the right time to move forward."

England 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 Rugby World Cup winner

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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