28 Scottish women have been awarded professional contracts, Scottish Rugby announced on Dec. 15th.
The 11-month contracts go into effect now and will run until Nov. 2023, and reportedly average £25,000 (about €28,660). The 28 players who have already signed make up the majority of Scotland's recent Rugby World Cup Squad. Fellow internationals Rhona Lloyd, Lisa Thomson and Shona Campbell have already signed with GB Sevens, but their availability for international games is still being negotiated with Scottish rugby.
The move is part of Scottish Rugby's stated goal of increased investment in the women's game; they announced in June that funding for women's and girl's rugby would increase from £1.6m (€1.84m) to £4.1m this year. This year's Rugby World Cup proved disappointing for Scotland's women's team when they lost all three games in the pool round—narrowly to Wales and Australia and devastatingly to eventual champions New Zealand.
Scottish Rugby is also following the lead of England, Wales, and Ireland; England's side went professional in 2019 and Wales and Ireland both instituted systems of professional contracts this year.
Jim Malinder, Scottish Rugby's Director of High Performance, said "This is a landmark moment for the women's performance programme and these contracts are a significant first step towards professionalising the women's game."
"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."
Scotland Women Head Coach Bryan Easson said "Firstly, I'm delighted for the 28 players who have accepted professional contracts. The women's game and calendar is continuously evolving and growing and we now have an annual programme that we can plan and prepare for properly, whilst also developing the players as individuals at their existing clubs."
"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."
Rachel Malcolm, captain of Scotland Women, 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."
The contracted players are as follows.
Forwards: Leah Bartlett, Christine Belisle, Sarah Bonar, Elliann Clarke, Lisa Cockburn, Evie Gallagher, Jade Konkel-Roberts, Rachel Malcolm, Elis Martin, Rachel McLachlan, Louise McMillan, Lyndsey O'Donnell, Lana Skeldon, Jodie Rettie, Emma Wassell, Molly Wright, Anne Young
Backs: Coreen Grant, Sarah Law, Caity Mattinson, Jenny Maxwell, Mairi McDonald, Liz Musgrove, Helen Nelson, Emma Orr, Chloe Rollie, Meryl Smith, Evie Wills