Saracens' Sarah McKenna believes paying women players will introduce a 'one-club mentality'

Sarah McKenna (far right) has played for Saracens since 2013 and made 22 appearances for England (PA Images)
12:34pm, Wed 11 Sep 2019
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Saracens and England rugby player Sarah McKenna believes the club's commitment to paying their women's team will create a 'one-club mentality'.

Last week, Saracens and Worcester became the first English rugby clubs to pay their female players sums of between £150-£250 per appearance.

And McKenna, who has played for Saracens for six years, is feeling positive about the decision.

Speaking to BBC Sport, she said: "It's really exciting for the players, coaches and the supporters alike that the club have become aligned in the men's and women's sections.

"It's Saracens as a whole with a one-club mentality now, and in terms of professionalism and the way the game has gone, there has been a change in the mindset."

Saracens won the Tyrrells Premier 15s last season (PA Images)

However, fellow Tyrrells Premier 15s player Hannah Field - a flanker for Richmond - is more apprehensive about the move to professionalising the women's side of the sport.

She said: "If you bring players in because of the money are you creating a team that want to play for each other or are you creating a team that want to get paid?

"At Richmond, we are adamant we can be the team that we want to be without paying players. New Zealand's men play for one another, which is more important than playing for money.

"I think if it is managed well enough and if we can learn from the mistakes the men made when they went professional then it can be a good thing - but it is a slow process and it has to be sustainable."

Since the formation of the Premier 15s back in 2017, the same ten teams have competed in the division as there is no promotion or relegation.

As a result, there is a fear that the introduction of paid players to the league could lead to a larger disparity in the quality of the teams.

This is something that Nicky Ponsford, head of women's performance at the RFU, is wary of.

"Our main aim is to ensure Tyrrells Premier 15s is sustainable," she said.

"We've got to make sure commercial revenues are driven up first before we fully professionalise. We want this league to be here in 20 years' time."