Last Thursday, Scottish Rugby announced professional contracts to 28 players in the Scotland Women’s squad. The contracts are part of continued investment in women’s rugby and are divided into three tiers dependent on performance. Players have previously had to juggle their Scotland duties around jobs or studies, but these new contracts will allow them to fully focus on rugby.
Scottish Rugby recently launched a four-year strategy to grow the women’s game in Scotland, following an increase of girls’ and women’s rugby players from 2,680 to 6,173 over the last decade. The professional contracts are an integral part of the new strategy, which will double funding for women’s and girls’ rugby during its first year. Funding will not only be allocated to the elite level, but also to grassroots rugby in order to grow the game.
The move means all six nations teams now have professional contracts in place for their women’s rugby union teams. England and France have been fully professional for some years now, but Wales and Italy implemented professional contracts for their squads leading up to this year’s World Cup. After having missed out on World Cup qualification, Ireland also announced professional contracts earlier this year for their women’s team. The Scotland Women’s World Cup squad was also awarded contracts leading up to the World Cup, but these new contracts will be in place from December 2022 to November 2023. This first year will focus on skills and physical development of individual players who will be based at their clubs, with the majority playing for English clubs in the Allianz Premier 15s. However, included in the strategy is also a plan to launch a professional domestic league in Scotland, as a part of creating a sustainable and competitive playing environment in the country.
The Red Roses became fully professional in January 2019. Since then, they have grown and improved as an international side. They broke the world record on the most consecutive wins in international rugby union earlier this autumn and the move to professionalise the team has been a key factor to their success. We look forward to seeing where the new professional contracts will take Scotland Women, and we also hope to see more unions awarding their women’s sides professional contracts after the impressive showcase of women’s rugby that this year’s World Cup offered.