Women’s match fees slashed in half before Rugby World Cup
Exclusive: Rugby Players Association vows to ‘rectify’ contract issue after Red Roses paid just £400 for each warm-up match
The Rugby Players Association has promised to “rectify” pay conditions stipulated in England’s women’s contracts after it emerged players’ match fees have been slashed by half, weeks out from the World Cup.
The Red Roses, who are the favourites to win next month’s tournament in New Zealand, set a new record with their 52-14 victory against the USA last week, becoming the first top-tier international side from the men’s or women’s game to win 24 Test matches in a row.
But Telegraph Sport can reveal players who were part of the history-making squad for the encounter at Sandy Park were paid only half of their usual match fee for the World Cup warm-up fixture, despite it being a fully-capped Test match.
Players in the 23-strong squad all received a blanket payment of £400 – the amount which is usually paid out to non-playing reserves – compared to the standard match appearance fee of £800.
The cost-cutting measure will save the RFU £18,400 over the two fixtures – a sum that falls well short of what an individual England men’s player pockets for playing one Test. Eddie Jones’ men are thought to earn £25,000 a game – a staggering 3125 per cent higher than female counterparts are normally paid to represent their country.
‘In future, we will be looking to rectify this’
Telegraph Sport understands the players were unaware that the pay bands were stipulated in their contract as part of an agreement for World Cup warm-up games, but hoped that the RFU would reinstate the full fee.
“We did have more than one discussion on this and ultimately, the RFU made the decision that they wanted to stick to the contract,” said Christian Day, head of player affairs at the RPA.
“At that point, we have a responsibility in terms of representing the players in that we didn’t want to be disruptive so close to the World Cup. At that point, the decision was made that this isn’t something we should pursue.
“Does that mean that we agree with it? From a personal stance, no I don’t. In the future, we will be looking to rectify this. We obviously need clearer wording in the contract that the capped Test matches will be paid at the same rate as any other and that’s something that we will look to introduce in the next contract.”
Those who are selected for the Red Roses’ second World Cup warm-up game against Wales on September 14 at Ashton Gate have also been told to expect a reduced match fee of £400.