England players contracted to the Rugby Football Union are to benefit from a new maternity policy that includes 26 weeks of leave on full pay.
Also included in the ‘maternity, pregnant parent and adoption leave policy’ is the capacity for pregnant players to perform other roles within rugby until they begin maternity leave.
In addition, the program set up by the RFU in conjunction with the Rugby Players’ Association will make provision for infants to travel with players to games and training camps.
Any pregnant player wishing to be involved in the team will have that right protected, while “ensuring that the safety of the player and the unborn child are considered first”.
A risk assessment will determine what duties can be safely performed during pregnancy.
Protections are also provided in the event that contracts are renegotiated or extended during pregnancy.
“There has been a great deal of work carried out by players, the RPA and the RFU to get to this point,” said Red Roses lock Abbie Ward, who recently announced she is expecting her first child.
“I’m confident the policy will help normalise motherhood in sport and give players the best possible chance of returning to play should they wish to do so in a secure and safe way.”