Scotland Women net £500,000 funding boost for Rugby World Cup
Bryan’s Easson’s side have qualified for the first time in 12 years and the national coach said agreement on the financial package was “a huge boost”.
It takes Scottish Rugby’s investment in the squad to beyond £500,000 this year but stops short of offering full-time contracts.
Plans are also understood to be in motion to create a Scottish club side to compete in a semi-pro league in a bid to drive up standards.
Rachel Malcolm, the Scotland captain, said the latest financial package was the right thing for the team at the current time. The funding model will be reviewed after the World Cup in October.
“In terms of the support package we have at the minute I think it’s absolutely the right package for us,” said Malcolm. “Since September we’ve had individual support packages in place and this is a continuation of that.
“What’s been really impressive for us as players is that all of us have been listened to individually and it’s been updated as a result.”
Scotland are the only one of the Six Nations teams to not have centrally contracted players or be in the process of implementing such a plan. Jim Mallinder, Scottish Rugby’s director of high performance, said the current model would allow the players to train full-time ahead of the World Cup and Easson will have access to his squad for 11 weeks of training and two additional weeks ahead of two warm-up fixtures.
“We’ve got to be careful with what we mean by a full-time contract and just paying out money to the girls,” said Mallinder.
“After the World Cup we’ll be looking at a different financial model. We’ll be looking at rewarding performance.
“What we’re doing now is catering for their careers. We’re putting a package in place to make sure they can train full-time.”
The next step in developing the women’s game in Scotland is likely to be the formation of a semi-pro club side which is expected to be announced later this week by Gemma Fay, Scottish Rugby’s head of women and girls strategy.
Mallinder suggested such a team is required to bridge the gap between the amateur club game in Scotland and the international team. One option could be to play in England’s Allianz Premier 15s set-up.
“We’ve got a club system - a community club game - and we’ve got our international game, and nothing in between,” said Mallinder.
The more immediate aim is ensuring the national side is best prepared as possible for the World Cup where Scotland have been drawn in Pool A with Wales, Australia and New Zealand.
“They are working just now as full-time athletes and they will be able to rest as full-time athletes,” said Mallinder. “This is the opportunity of a lifetime.
“They’re going to their employers and saying we want to prepare properly and professionally, I want to take time off. We are financing that time off.”
Easson expects to have a full squad to choose from and reported that scrum-half Jenny Maxwell and No 8 Jade Konkel were recovering well from injury.
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