The FIR have announced that 25 members of the Italian squad have been given a centralized contract ahead of the Rugby World Cup in the autumn.
The 25 athletes will be divided into three brackets, determined by the board, who have approved the introduction of a sports collaboration contract on an annual basis, which will be renewed in future seasons.
The aim is to support the professional activity of Italy’s best female players, committing them to periods of 80-130 days with the national team per year.
The central contracts are due to replace or supplement the scholarship project developed for the Italian Women’s national team from December 2020.
The FIR will invest over €350,000 into the Italian squad, allowing them to prepare in the best possible way ahead of the Rugby World Cup in the autumn.
Some of the biggest names among the 25 rewarded with a professional contract are included, such as captain Manuela Furlan, centurion Sara Barattin and the likes of senior players Melissa Bettoni, Beatrice Rigoni and Elisa Giordano.
Speaking on the historic change to a professional contract, Marzio Innocenti, president of the FIR said: “Our vision of athletes who combine sporting skills with non-sporting interests, such as work and study, has guided the development process of the contract with the Azzurre.
“A path for which I would like to thank the Federal Councillor Francesca Gallina, who from day one has worked to achieve this goal, and Giocatori Italia Rugby Associati, for representing and supporting the girls in reaching a centralised agreement with FIR.
“Women’s rugby is steadily becoming more competitive at international level and our best athletes being under contract will allow them to compete on the test-match scene.”
Furlan too was delighted with the announcement for her squad ahead of the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.
She added: “Leaving the jersey in a better place than where you found it is the desire and goal of any player.
“This agreement marks a first, important turning point for the future of our National Women’s team and, for me and the other veterans of the group, represents the best possible legacy to the next generations of Azzurre.
Italian players awarded contracts:
Italian players awarded scholarships: