‘Historic’: 12 Wales Women players earn first full-time WRU contracts
The first full-time Wales Women players have been contracted by the Welsh Rugby Union have been revealed.
The players are Alisha Butchers, Natalia John, Siwan Lillicrap, Carys Phillips, Gwenllian Pyrs, Donna Rose among the forwards, and Kiera Bevan, Hannah Jones, Jasmine Joyce, Ffion Lewis, Lisa Neumann, Elinor Snowsill among the backs.
The twelve players who have accepted full-time contracts are two more than originally announced. The 12-month contracts came into force this week with players and management based at the National Centre of Excellence.
There had been pressure on the WRU to act over the lack f professional contracts in the women’s game after sevens star Jasmine Joyce tweeted in September that she was out of a job after the Lions tour.
“I love being part of Great Britain and playing on the world series, but unfortunately after the Dubai in December, it will go back to England,” she said. “Meaning I will no longer be living the dream as a full time rugby player, but balancing both a full time job and rugby ”
Speaking today, Group Chief Executive Steve Phillips said it was a “very proud day for us as a governing body”.
“I am very pleased to be able to say we have our first full-time female players who will represent Wales on the international stage. This is set to be a very demanding but unforgettable year for women’s rugby and these players – along with the players on retainer contracts and other squad members – will benefit from the full range of our expert on and off-field support to help them reach their potential. This is the start of an exciting journey for women and girls in Wales.”
A cover tackle for the ages from GB's @joyce_jaz 🙌🙌🙌#HSBC7s pic.twitter.com/ZDsAikzhXk
— World Rugby Sevens (@WorldRugby7s) September 18, 2021
WRU Performance Director Nigel Walker added that the move was “historic”.
“It will enable all these players to be full-time professionals and have regular, weekly contact with head coach Ioan Cunningham, the rest of the coaches and our expert science and medical team,” he said.
“All of this will make a significant difference to the players’ preparation, fitness and skill sets in order to enable us to challenge the best teams in the world.
“We were so pleased with the quality of the players’ autumn performances that an increase to 12 full-time contracts was agreed, and the coaching team felt that working with 12 players who form the spine of the team would make a big impact. These players will be joined by 15 players on retainer contracts in the coming weeks.”
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About. Flipping. Time. Well done to all concerned, more please WRU, asap!
Equally important are the 15 on retainer which will allow them to dedicate more to diet, conditioning and training. The “broken-time” payments for Wales training camps are also crucial in making the international game open to more women.
I remember reading about how Lisa Neumann and the North Wales players finished work for the day, raced down to Cardiff, trained then raced back ready for work the next day. That sort of dedication earned them these contracts.