England rugby women pay deal 'a revolution', says coach Simon Middleton

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Fifty England players were on a mixture of full-time and part-time professional contracts

The decision to give England women's team match fees for individual games for the first time has been hailed as a "revolution" by coach Simon Middleton.

In July, the Rugby Football Union (RFU) was criticised after it announced it would not be renewing central contracts for the 15-a-side squad.

But on Thursday the RFU said the 35-strong Elite Player Squad would receive an annual fee and a match fee.

"It's a step towards professionalism in the women's game," said Middleton.

Negotiations over pay have been ongoing since the summer, but the RFU said they are almost at an end.

"It's been a tough process, but we've reached agreement," Middleton told BBC Sport.

"We are 100% behind it. The deal was always coming, it was just a case of what it would look like. It's an unbelievably exciting time.

"It's a revolution in this sport and that's exactly what we want. The girls can genuinely look at the sport now and see it as a genuine way to make a living, and that's how it should be."

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