Scottish Rugby commits to at least 30 contracts for women players post-World Cup

Financial support for women's and girls' game to increase significantly next year

Rachel Malcolm will lead Scotland against Wales on Sunday. Image: © Craig Watson -
Scotland's Rachel Malcolm celebrates a score against Wales. Image: © Craig Watson.

SCOTTISH Rugby has announced a four-year strategy for the women’s and girls’ game that includes a commitment to have a minimum of 30 contracted players following this year’s Rugby World Cup. The governing body has also announced that it is to increase expenditure on the women’s and girls’ game next year to £4.1million, up from £1.6million.

“Last year Scottish Rugby invested £1.6m directly into the women and girls’ game,” a statement from the governing body said. “In endorsing the strategy, the Scottish Rugby Board has agreed to an additional investment of up to £2.5m covering the first year of the strategy which will be invested in all areas of the pathway taking the total women and girls’ funding to £4.1m, more than double the previous year’s allocation.

“Part of this investment will be focussed on continuing the journey towards professionalising the women’s game as we commit to a minimum of 30 contracted rugby players following on from the Rugby World Cup. “

As they prepare for the World Cup later this year, members of the national team have been offered support packages tailored to their individual needs. It is expected that the contracts offered after the World Cup will still have some similar flexibility, but even so, this will be as close as Scotland has yet come to having a full-time professional women’s team.

The four-year strategy also aims to create two semi-pro sides. However, there are as yet no details of where they will be based and who they will play against.

Having said that, the governing body appears confident that interest in and support for the women’s game will continue to grow. Playing numbers have increased significantly post-pandemic, and Gemma Fay, Scottish Rugby’s head of women and girls’ strategy, was in bullish mood when the four-year plan was launched.

“This is an extremely exciting time to be involved in women and girl’s rugby,” the former Scotland international footballer said. “And I feel privileged to have been able to work with a fantastic group of people, both within Scottish Rugby and within rugby in Scotland, who are equally excited by the opportunities we see in front of us.

“This strategy will enable us to channel the passion, enthusiasm and interest that there is for the game within Scotland and ultimately grow the sport. We will focus on connecting all aspects of what it takes to develop a sustainable, thriving game to ensure that we support our clubs to build capacity, establish a clear pathway for our players and people and ensure Scotland Women are supported to be successful on the international stage.

“Rugby is a game for all and it is important that we provide a pathway that is for all, whether that is in a Scotland shirt or simply have an enjoyable experience on and off the field at their respective level.

“We want to harness the current momentum we have seen post-pandemic in the women’s game and create long lasting, transformational change, allowing women and girl’s rugby to define its own unique identity within the rugby landscape in Scotland.

“I’d like to thank everyone involved in women and girl’s rugby in Scotland who contributed to the consultation period which gave us an excellent insight into the direction of travel the strategy should take and many creative and innovative ideas to be developed.”

About Stuart Bathgate 1412 Articles
Stuart has been the rugby correspondent for both The Scotsman and The Herald, and was also The Scotsman’s chief sports writer for 14 years from 2000.


  1. The question however has to be asked, can the SRU really afford it?
    What’s more there are signs of a significant element of mission-creep this is an obvious precursor for Dodson to come out with, ‘lets agree to the URC proposal* for participation in the URC Pro Women’s series’.
    That in turn will lead almost certainty to greater expenditure and more money being leached out of any suggested pathway for the U20’s Super6 or the Grassroots club game or even the two professional squads.
    Where is the money coming from?
    It isn’t misogynistic to pose the question, it’s pertinent: the SRU revenue is basically finite, if standards drop along with revenue because funding is spread too thinly then what? We have seen already Glasgow and Edinburgh players leaving for more lucrative contracts, and I doubt if either clubs are anywhere near the top of the player expenditure list.
    Equality of opportunity is one thing, fiscal incompetence is another and attempting to keep to some supposed equality agenda when it is not a sensible or viable financial proposition is little more than virtue signaling at the expense of the Goose that lays the Golden Egg.
    The fact is the SRU do not have the funds or structure of other Unions and the Men’s game struggles to make a profit in the professional era as it is, the women’s professional game in order to be productive has to grow organically otherwise existing and proposed funding of the professional side can only detract funding from all other areas of SRU expenditure or do the advocates of women’s rugby [the professional not the amateur] consider those facts inconsequential?
    Whether I know sufficient about the governance of the SRU and all its commitments or not, I do know that old Mr. Micawber’s fiscal expenditure advice was and is relevant to most if not all things in life.
    *Being pushed hard by the Shelbourne Bar clique at the ex-officio meetings of URC and the Premier Tv. who no doubt will pay a pittance for the Television contract.

  2. Great news for the ladies game. It’s growing and will contour to grow. Can’t wait for the WC. 🐻

  3. Good news for the Womens game and all who have made this happen should be applauded.

    BUT. It’s still early days for Womens rugby in Scotland. The number of teams is still relatively small while the number of mismatches and call offs is high. Hopefully this plan goes some way to remedying that disparity.

  4. Without doubt, a great announcement, but as ever, when it comes to Scottish Rugby, the devil will be in the detail.

    In the mens game, semi-pro is now responsibility of the “performance” side of the business, yet here we have “pipeline” which looks to be neither community rugby, nor performance rugby – it will be interesting to hear the explanation for this.

    And dipping into the details that are provided, on page 11 it looks like the target is to increase the number of Womens teams by 92% (39 to 75), but they are only targetting a 19% increase in Women players (3371 to 4000) – this doesn’t look logical.

  5. I’ll reserve judgement until I see what that support means. But if it is on an equal footing then its a great thing. I’ve been to a few of the women’s matches and they are playing some great ball.


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