Shadow sports minister express displeasure over RFU's decision to not renew Women's contract

Dr Rosena Allin-Khan is the shadow sports minister
Dr Rosena Allin-Khan is the shadow sports minister

The shadow sports minister has slammed Rugby Football Union (RFU) for their decision to not renew the contracts for England's 15-a-side Women players.

In a letter written to RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie, Dr Rosena Allin-Khan urged the board to reconsider their decision and further added that this will set a wrong implication on a number of girls, who were inspired to take the game seeing England Women lift the World Cup in 2014 for the first time in 20 years.

The backlash follows after RFU had said that their focus will move towards the sevens game with Rugby World Cup Sevens and Commonwealth Games lined up next year and several players from the 15-a-side contract will be shifted to sevens contract.

The statement further added that the players were well made aware of the decision and the 15-a-side contracts will be awarded once again prior to 2021 World Cup.

"Although the RFU's statements have made clear that the RFU is 'cycling' between contracts for the 7s and 15s according to the schedule and focus of the major international competitions, it should be noted that the RFU is placing the risk of playing international rugby on the players themselves," Dr Rosena Allin-Khan wrote.

"Asking players to pause and resume their professions every two years puts their futures at considerable risk.

"For an organisation with a total annual revenue in the hundreds of millions, to make this decision is deeply disappointing.

"Surely the RFU should be focused on investing in both aspects of the women's game and should be prepared to back this up with secure contracts for both teams - 7s and 15s. After all, this is the commitment that the RFU has made to the men's game in England.

"The most concerning aspect of this news is what is says about the RFU's ongoing commitment to the women's game.

"As you yourself have clearly stated: '48 professional player contracts are being awarded for the England Women's game as part of England Rugby's ongoing commitment to the professionalisation of women's rugby.' This discontinuation of these contracts sends the opposite message: that the RFU is far less than fully committed to the women's game."

"We have come such a long way and the England Women's team have rewarded us with no less than world titles. We cannot fail them with a poverty of ambition or investment. We therefore strongly urge you to reconsider this decision."

According to a report in Press Association, it is understood that 10 members out of the 28-player World Cup squad of England are set to be retained with the sevens contract.