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SIX SARRIES WOMEN RECEIVE ENGLAND CONTRACTS

03.01.19
In association with
City Index City Index
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Six Saracens Women have been awarded full-time England Women XV professional contracts, the RFU announced today.

Hannah Botterman, Poppy Cleall, Vicky Fleetwood, Zoe Harrison, Sarah McKenna and Marlie Packer are among the 28 players who will be able to play and train full-time as a result of the RFU’s increased investment in women’s rugby.

In addition, Bryony Cleall and Elle Perry are among the seven players who have been given Elite Player Squad (EPS) agreements.

About the England six…

 

Hannah Botterman

Position: Prop

Caps: 5

What she said: “Having the opportunity to be able to train full-time is life changing, just incredible. It’s going to allow us to develop as players, and I’m really grateful that I’ve been given the opportunity.

“It’ll change my life massively. Doing full days at work and then trying to perform to the best of my ability whilst training was hard, but now I can solely focus on getting better and put all my energy into that.”

 

Poppy Cleall

Position: No.8

Caps: 24

What she said: “Going professional is a dream come. Everyone already works so hard at our clubs and internationally, which won’t change but this is our time to really step up and see where we can go.”

 

Vicky Fleetwood

Position: Flanker

Caps: 67

What she said: “I’m looking forward to being part of a full-time programme again as it just gives you extra time to work on those specific skills and to gel as a team.

“Having played in the last two World Cup finals, this step forward will give us a great opportunity to continue our journey towards the next World Cup and to keep competing at the highest level against the top teams in the world.

“At this early stage in the women’s professional game, full-time contracts can be a total game-changer when it comes to the big tournaments and we’re now given that opportunity to put our best foot forward for the Six Nations. It’s an exciting time for the women’s game and I can’t wait to see where it will take us as a squad.”

 

Zoe Harrison

Position: Fly-half

Caps: 8

What she said: "I’m very excited and grateful for this opportunity to grow as a player and to be training at the top level. I can’t wait to see how the team develops and what is to come."

 

Sarah McKenna

Position: Full-back

Caps: 17

What she said: "It's extremely exciting and an honour to be entering a new era of women’s rugby with the England squad. Training full-time is a game-changer and gives me the opportunity to develop my game in all areas."

 

Marlie Packer

Position: Flanker

Caps: 61

What she said: “It’s really exciting times for women’s rugby and it’s a great step forward for the XVs game heading towards the World Cup in 2021.

“It’s also really exciting for me to be part of the full-time programme. There’s a strong group of us from Sarries who have been given contracts, and it will be great for the club, as what we learn with England we can take back to the squad and rub off on them.”

 

The RFU first introduced professional contracts to its women’s sevens squad in August 2014 which saw the women’s programme become fully professional in-line with the men’s. The RFU integrated both men’s and women’s sevens programmes in 2017 by basing both teams out of the England Rugby High Performance Centre at the Lensbury in Teddington.

The RFU launched the Tyrrells Premier 15s in 2017 which saw the union invest £2.4 million in the new women’s domestic XVs competition with the aim to improve standards of the women’s game, as well as increase the talent pool available for selection for England in the future.

Under the RFU’s women and girls strategy, the union plans to double the number of participants by 2021, increase the number of women’s teams by more than 75% to 800, the number of active women’s clubs to more than 400, and get more women involved in the sport as referees, coaches and volunteers.

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