Plan is part of a "major investment" into the Wales Women's performance programme

First professional contracts for Wales Women’s players

The WRU is set to offer 25 contracts to women’s players as part of a “major investment” into the Wales Women’s performance programme.

The governing body has not yet announced which players will be offered the contracts, but ten will be professional with another 15 retainer deals. They will be in place from 1 January 2022.

Criticism has been heaped on the WRU following a disappointing 2021 Six Nations campaign where the team didn’t win a match as well as a high turnover of coaches, so this announcement should be a positive step.

Wales captain Siwan Lillicrap believes the contracts will allow players to better prepare for tournaments, like next year’s World Cup in New Zealand.

She said: “As players, we feel this is the best model for us at this stage. It’s a structure that gives us an opportunity to prepare for the Rugby World Cup in a better place.

“It will allow some of our players to commit to being professional athletes and also take charge of certain tasks on behalf of the team, for example around analysis, and others to make decisions around their personal circumstances that will allow them to train and recover in a more manageable way so we can make strides forward as a group.”

The professional contracts for Wales Women’s players aren’t the only improvements the WRU have committed to. Initiatives are to be put in place to grow the women’s game in Wales, while match and training fees will also be introduced. Plus, staff appointments will be made in lifestyle, psychology and science roles.

WRU performance director Nigel Walker said: “We will continue to add expertise to the management structure. We are also working hard behind the scenes on steps to make sure we have a robust player pathway to underpin the top level.

“We are in the process of recruiting a Head of Age Grade (male and female), along with coaches to run U18 and U20 sides for both the male and female game. And establishing the best competition structure to develop those players.”

WRU CEO Steve Phillips added: “Contracts are by no means a guarantee for immediate success for the women’s game in Wales. They are, however, a key part of the WRU’s strategic approach. We will continue to make ambitious improvements to raise standards across the board.”

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