England's Rachael Burford first woman on RPA players' board

Rachael Burford
Burford started playing rugby at the age of six and has 56 caps for England

England centre Rachael Burford has become the first female professional player on the Rugby Players' Association players' board.

The 28-year-old has won 56 caps and helped England win the World Cup in 2014. She was last year's England Women's player of the year.

"I am delighted to have been given this role to represent our game," she said.

"Winning the World Cup was a pivotal moment for women's rugby and has created a wealth of opportunities."

Burford, from Thurrock in Essex, joins representatives from the 12 Premiership clubs, the most recently relegated Premiership club and England Sevens on the players' board of the RPA - the union for professional and semi-professional players.

She added: "We have only recently turned professional and I am really looking forward to learning from my fellow board members about the matters they have been tackling for many years.

"Many will be the same, such as how to deal with concussion, keeping players physically and mentally healthy and negotiating contracts."

Damian Hopley, group chief executive of the RPA, said: "This is a landmark moment for both English women's rugby and the RPA.

"I have no doubt that Rachel will make a vital contribution to not only helping shape the future of women's rugby but also to the game as a whole."