Scotland's national women’s rugby team will become professional in the latter part of this year. At least 30 players will be offered contracts.
The Scottish Rugby Union confirmed that it plans to have two semi-professional women’s teams.
They will play in a semi-pro league against teams from “other unions”, but the SRU has not revealed which countries will be participating.
Women and girls funding will increase from £1.6m to £4.1m over the next year.
Mark Dodson, chief executive of SRU, stated that the company is fully committed to the implementation of this comprehensive and important strategy.
“As a core part of our business strategy the breadth of our ambitions to grow the women's and girls’ game is evident. I believe that there are exciting times ahead of our sport in this sector.”
While the names of the 30 contracted players may be announced prior to the Women's Rugby World Cup in New Zealand (October), their contracts will not start until after that tournament,
The SRU this week announced a financial package for a 36-strong squad that would allow them to train full-time for 11 weeks in preparation for the finals. However, any player may refuse to sign a contract. They will still be eligible for Scotland selection, and will receive appearance payments.
If they wish, players can continue their educations or careers through the system.
SRU targets for the national soccer team for the next four-years include:
- The 2024 Women's Six Nations placed fourth
- Top-eight finishes at the 2025 World Cup
- Increased attendance at the Scotland women's games will reach 7,000 by 2026
Since the establishment of the Premier League two years ago, there has been increasing pressure on unions to invest more in women's teams.
In 2022, the Welsh Rugby Union responded with an international team that is now on a mix of semi-professional and professional contracts.
Scotland was sixth in the 2022 Women's Six Nations. They lost all five of their games, despite having qualified for the delayed 2021 Rugby World Cup one month prior.
SRU has published its “women’s strategy 2022-26”, which aims to make professional women's soccer.
Gemma Fay (head of women and girls) said that the announcements were more than an increase in international funding.
Also, money will be invested in new participation strategies such as a targeted women's program at a state school.
Funding will continue to fund three additional regional training centres. There will be physiotherapy support, strength and condition, and sports psychology for 60 players.
The SRU has established targets to increase the number of women and girls who are coaches, match officials and leaders in its four-year span.
There are 6,173 female and girl's current players. It is hoped that this number will grow to 7,800.