England players will receive 26 weeks of maternity leave on full pay under the new RFU maternity policy.
The new policy also includes the option for pregnant players to be able to perform other roles within rugby until their maternity leave starts and babies will be able to able to travel with players to games.
If at any point during pregnancy or whilst on maternity leave, contracts are renegotiated or extended, the player who is pregnant or on maternity leave will be included in all discussions and have their contract extended for a period of not less than 12 months.
Abbie Ward, who is expecting her first child, said “There has been a great deal of work carried out by players, the RPA and the RFU to get to this point. 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.”
A risk assessment will be undertaken once players announce they are pregnant in order to decide what duties can be safely performed so that the safety of the mother and child are always the first priority.