By Paul Jones
Wales women head coach Ioan Cunningham is staying on with more players given professional contracts.
Cunningham – who had been linked with a number of other job – has extended his deal until 2025, but the new full-time players only have short-term contracts which run to the end of the year. The contracts of the existing full-timers also run out on December 31.
The Welsh Rugby Union also plan other short term deals to get them through the delayed women’s World Cup which starts in October.
The Union has awarded 17 new full-time contracts for female players covering the period from July 1 – Dec 31.
These are in addition to the 12 players who took up the first full-time Welsh Rugby Union contracts at the start of the year.
The new full-time players include 11 players who had previously taken up retainer contracts, along with six new, full-time players – flanker Alex Callender, props Cara Hope and Caryl Thomas, hooker Kelsey Jones, uncapped lock Liliana Podpadec and centre Megan Webb, while outside half Robyn Wilkins has taken up a retainer contract.
– 17 new full-time contracts bringing number of WRU contracted players to 31
– @IoanCunningham commits as head coach to 2025 Rugby World Cup
– New coaching and sports science staff added #HerStory
— Welsh Rugby Union 🏉 (@WelshRugbyUnion) July 6, 2022
Cunningham’s squad are now in camp full-time until the World Cup in New Zealand, with two international matches in Canada and England beforehand.
Cunningham said: “First things first, I’m delighted with this latest investment in players and staff which will give the players the best opportunity to succeed in October.
“We are competing against other nations across the world, who are continually raising the bar themselves so it’s vital to keep improving to have a chance of getting ahead of that progression curve.
“It’s been great to speak to the players during this process and hear their passion and drive to achieve as players.
“We looked at where we needed to strengthen our team and I’m delighted to be able to give so many players this opportunity after they have worked so hard for so many years, it will really allow them all to improve in many ways, and for us to make strides as a group.
— Dai Sport (@Dai_Sport_) April 22, 2022
“We are grateful for the understanding shown by many employers, many of whom have allowed players to take leave from their roles or allowed players to take a sabbatical from their jobs.
“I’m delighted to stay on with this group. I love working with the players and staff every day and look forward to seeing how far we can go over the next few years, not just with this squad but with the next crop of players coming through too.”
WRU performance director Nigel Walker said: “The initial investment of contracts made an immediate difference to the standards and results of the side in the TikTok Women’s Six Nations and this further investment in players and staff will help to give Wales the best chance of performing with distinction at the forthcoming Rugby World Cup.”
WRU contracted players
Meg Webb *
*Newly awarded contracts, either full-time or retainer
Other players in full-time pre-season training programme: