Scotland captain Rachel Malcolm hailed a “historic” day for women’s rugby in the country after 28 players were awarded professional contracts.
The investment by the Scottish Rugby Union comes on the back of an impressive but ultimately frustrating World Cup campaign when Bryan Easson’s team suffered agonisingly narrow defeats against Wales and Australia before losing to eventual winners New Zealand.
Malcolm said: “This is a historic and incredibly exciting day for Scottish Rugby and the women’s programme. The opportunity to go professional is not one I thought I would have within my career and as a playing group we are determined to use this opportunity to take Scotland Women to a new level.”
An SRU statement read: “The contracts run from December 2022 to November 2023, with the first year focusing on the skills and physical development of each individual player, who will be based at their existing clubs, while also providing players the opportunity to have greater time for off-field performance activities such as analysis and recovery.”
On top of this, Rhona Lloyd, Lisa Thomson and Shona Campbell have accepted contracts with GB Sevens, with discussions ongoing over their release for Scotland games.
The SRU’s director of high performance, Jim Mallinder, said: “This is a landmark moment for the women’s performance programme and these contracts are a significant first step in a long-term journey towards professionalising the women’s game.
“Today’s announcement will provide a crucial boost ahead of the TikTok Women’s Six Nations championship and the launch of the new global women’s competition, WXV, as we aim to ensure that we can compete and challenge the top teams on the world stage.
“The next step will look at how we can create a sustainable and competitive playing environment in Scotland, while building our high-performance pathways to support our future internationalists and ensure new talent is identified and developed.”
Easson added: “The ability for players to focus on rugby each week, while having sufficient enough time for recovery and analysis, is a real positive for us and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can achieve going forward.”