The RFU has announced its first maternity policy specifically designed for players


The RFU has announced a “ground-breaking” new maternity policy alongside the Rugby Players’ Association (RPA) which will see contracted Red Roses entitled to 26 weeks of fully paid maternity leave.

The “maternity, pregnant parent and adoption leave” policy gives pregnant players the opportunity to move to another role within the rugby network until they go on maternity leave, such as coaching positions, and remain involved in any contract re-negotiations.

The RFU said in the first 12 months after giving birth players will be allowed to bring their infant to training camps as long as someone accompanies them to supervise. All travel and accommodation costs while attending competitions during this time will be covered by the RFU.

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Pregnant England lock Abbie Ward has heralded the policy as a significant step to “normalise motherhood in sport”.

The Bristol forward, who is married to coach Dave Ward, announced her pregnancy three weeks ago.

“There has been a great deal of work carried out by players, the RPA and the RFU to get to this point,” Ward added. “I am confident that the policy will give players the best possible chance of returning to play should they wish to do so in a secure and safe way.”

Flanker Marlie Packer is the only mother in the current England squad, but the child was carried by her partner. There have been no women representing England who have returned to play after giving birth since hooker Emma Croker.

In 2012, Croker had an emergency caesarean and described to The Guardian getting a teammate to tackle her “full pelt” in her first contact session to test her c-section scar.

The RFU press release added: “A full risk assessment will be undertaken when a player first advises of pregnancy which will be a significant factor in determining what duties can be safely performed during pregnancy.”

Before this deal, the player’s maternity policy was standardised in line with all RFU employees.

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