The Irish Times is reporting this morning that professional contracts will be announced for around 40 women rugby players within the next two weeks.

The contracts will be worth up to €30,000 and will be signed with a mixture of sevens and 15’s players. Previously contracts had only been available for sevens players as part of additional funding for that group towards Olympic Games qualification.

The paper is further reporting that an appointment to the position of Head of Women’s Performance and Pathways is also imminent and will be announced before the Irish team departs for a tour of Japan that will include two test matches against their hosts on Saturday, August 20th and Saturday, August 27th.

Each of the professional contracts will be tailored to suit the circumstances of individual players who currently are made up of a mix of students, full-time workers outside of the sport and those who are playing semi-professional in England and France.

It will put Ireland on a level footing with the other Six Nations countries all of whom has implemented or announced some form of professional funding ahead of the Rugby World Cup taking place in New Zealand between October 8th and November 12th.

The Japan games will be part of that country’s up to the tournament which continued at the weekend with a win over South Africa where our own Lynne Cantwell is in charge of the Women’s performance game.

Ireland’s women currently lie seventh in the World Rankings, five places above Japan and six above South Africa.

You can read the full Irish Times article here.