A WEARSIDE teacher who led her England rugby side to win the World Cup has signed up to become a professional.
Katy Mclean, a reception teacher at Bexhill Academy in Town End Farm, has agreed a full-time contract with the Rugby Football Union for the upcoming season as part of a deal with the England Women’s Sevens.
It follows on from the team’s World Cup win over Cananda in Paris and from negotiations which began ahead of the fixture.
The squad – including 12 Women’s Rugby World Cup winners – will train five days a week, excluding tournament time, at Twickenham Stadium and Surrey Sports Park in Guildford from this September.
The all-encompassing programme, led by Head Coach Simon Middleton and the RFU’s Head of Women’s Performance Nicola Ponsford, will also include strength and conditioning, medical, nutritional, lifestyle and psychological support.
Players will be awarded the central contracts on a yearly basis and they will still be expected to play international XVs and Premiership rugby.
Katy, a Sunderland University graduate, has been based at the school since 2010 and will spend the first six weeks of the new academic year with staff and students before relocating to Surrey.
The team’s winning captain Katy said: “This is fantastic news for the sport and exactly what we need as an England squad to continue to be at the top of our sport on a global scale. I am extremely excited about this new challenge and where this full time programme can take us as an England team.”
Ponsford added: “We are really excited by the opportunity and feel that this will enable us to compete on a global level.
“The inclusion of Sevens in the Olympics has meant that a significant number of sides we are competing against have been full time for a year or more.
“We have been planning to do this for some time but we needed to make sure that we could focus on the 2014 Rugby World Cup while also ensuring we had the building blocks in place to guarantee that a full time programme is effective.
“With two years to go until the Olympics we felt this was the right time to move forward.”
The RFU is currently finalising the next phase of its Performance Strategy to take the England Women’s squads through to, and beyond, the 2016 Olympics Games and the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup.