Players of Wales

England Women v Wales Women - Rugby League International. Pic: Getty Images.

Ioan Cunningham Insists New Contracts Deal Can Improve Wales’ Showing At Next World Cup

By Hannah Blackwell

The Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) has doubled the number of the players who have earned full-time contracts with the Wales Women’s senior team in 2023.

The WRU had 12 players named on full-time contracts in 2022 and a further 17 on six-month deals for the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, making them the first female players to represent Wales professionally.

The investment means Ioan Cunningham, Wales Women’s Senior Head Coach, will now have 25 players on full-time contracts as he prepares his side for the forthcoming Women’s Six Nations Championship.

WRU interim CEO Nigel Walker said: “Our stated aim is to put everything in place to create a
world class international programme for women in Wales.

“The investment we put into the national programme last year paid clear dividends both on the field in terms of performances and results, and off it in terms of the all-round athlete development service provided within the programme.

“It’s important we don’t stand still and we believe the enhanced investment in the programme this year will go some way, not only to developing these players, but others who join the squad for training and tournaments.”

Leading Rugby Coach Takes Team to New Heights

Cunningham, who pledged his future to Wales by signing a new deal to the 2025 World Cup, led Wales to a third-place finish in last season’s Six Nations, their best position since 2009, and the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup.

“We are thrilled to be able to reward these players for the commitment and level of performance and professionalism they showed throughout last year,” Cunningham said.

“The initial contracts enabled us to make significant improvement throughout the year, both in the Women’s Six Nations and then ultimately to be able to perform at the highest level at the Rugby World Cup.

“Our aim this year will be to continue to build on the improvements we made in 2022. We’ve made progress but we are very aware that all the other nations are also developing with contracts and full-time programmes so it’s vital to keep moving forward.

“However, we also have one eye on developing the next wave of players ahead of the next Rugby World Cup in 2025. It is a very exciting time for women’s rugby in Wales.”

Carys Williams-Morris, the Loughborough Lightning centre, continues with Wales thanks to her RAF Elite Athlete status, while the remaining 24 players are named on full-time deals.

Wales full-time contracted players: Abbie Fleming, Cerys Hale, Kerin Lake, Lleucu George, Lowri Norkett, Megan Webb, Niamh Terry, Sisilia Tuipulotu, Alex Callender, Bethan Lewis, Georgia Evans, Gwenllian Pyrs, Keira Bevan, Kelsey Jones, Natalia John, Elinor Snowsill, Alisha Butchers, Carys Phillips, Donna Rose, Ffion Lewis, Gwen Crabb, Hannah Jones, Lisa Neumann, Robyn Wilkins, Carys Williams-Morris.

The 22nd edition of the TikTok Women’s Six Nations will take place between Saturday March 25 and Saturday April 29, with England looking to make it five championship victories in a row following a convincing 2022 campaign in which they beat France by seven points to the title.

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