A new plan to fund England women’s rugby is being drawn up to bring the players in line with their male counterparts.
The news that the women’s current full-time contracts – worth around £18,000 – were to end led to widespread criticism.
As a result, the RFU held preliminary talks with the Rugby Players’ Association to formulate a new policy.
The men’s squad currently receive a match fee – £22,000 per game – plus bonuses as part of a £20million, four-year deal.
Meanwhile, the women will not be earning that kind of money, the principle of match fees is being examined as a way forward.
Nigel Melville, the RFU’s director of professional rugby, said: “Our goal is to have full-time contracts for XVs and sevens players but we haven’t got there yet in terms of money available to fund them.
“We are at an early stage. Hopefully, in the future, we will get to central contracts covering full World Cup cycles.”
RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie also added that no one would be left ‘jobless’ when the current system ends.
“We will make sure the players who have been on these contracts are looked after,” he said. “For the very small number of players whose futures are not already assured, we will make sure they are looked after.”
Post-World Cup, the RFU will switch their funding to support for the women’s sevens squad ahead of the Commonwealth Games and Sevens World Cup, with 17 full-time professional fixed-term deals set to be handed out in September.