(Reuters) - More than 30 England women's players will receive contracts with "significant enhancements", the Rugby Football Union (RFU) announced on Thursday, with the three-year agreement covering the 2025 World Cup and running up to 2026.
The governing body said 32 contracts will be awarded, up from 30 last season. A further six transition contracts will go to younger players, while two players that are currently on maternity leave also remain contracted.
The names of the contracted players will be confirmed next month. The RFU did not reveal financial details of the contracts.
England's union was the first to offer their women's national team fully professional contracts in 2019, though most of the leading nations have now embraced professionalism at various levels.
The RFU said the new contracts had improvements "which as well as salary, cover match fees, Rugby World Cup 2025 arrangements, commercial and community engagement initiatives as well as an agreement around revenue sharing if business targets are exceeded.
"In addition, the Red Roses and Rugby Players' Association (RPA) will work closely to further support the players' off field aspirations and aid greater development opportunities."
In February, the RFU announced a new maternity leave policy entitling contracted players to 26 weeks of fully paid leave and funds for children under a year old to travel with them to games.
"The new contracts are a significant development and a mark of the advancement in the women's game since they were first awarded," RFU director of performance Conor O'Shea said.
"We have led the way with the introduction of contracts as well as provision such as the ground-breaking maternity policy introduced earlier this year for our female athletes."
The Red Roses have won the World Cup in 1994 and 2014 and finished runners-up on six occasions, including at the last two tournaments in 2017 and 2022, where they lost to New Zealand in both finals.
They have won the Women's Six Nations a record 19 times, claiming a fifth successive title in this year's tournament.
(Reporting by Aadi Nair in Nashik, India; Editing by Christian Radnedge)