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Women's Six Nations 2022: England's Sarah Bern says contracts needed for players' mental health

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Published in Rugby
Sunday, 01 May 2022 14:30

England prop Sarah Bern says other Women's Six Nations sides must embrace professionalism to protect players' mental health.

The Red Roses became the tournament's only fully professional side in 2019.

Ireland players have posted pictures on social media of them returning to their jobs the day after games.

"Things need to change - not just for the rugby but for the girls' own mental health," Bern said after England won the Grand Slam on Sunday.

England's investment has left a gulf between them and the other Six Nations sides. They rampaged their way to a fourth title in a row, beating every team except France by more than 50 points.

Wales handed out 12 contracts for the first time before the tournament, while 10 Scotland players have contracts and Ireland players receive a sum for every day they play.

Several players from other nations balance their club commitments in England's increasingly competitive Premier 15s league with international duty.

Bern said: "I would absolutely love it if everything was even.

"I have a lot of friends who play for Wales, Scotland and Ireland. It is really hard work.

"The Premiership is demanding more of our players and international is demanding so much of our players.

"Playing a game like this then having to work tomorrow - I really feel for them. I'm always there to fight for their corner because I think everyone should have equal opportunity."

The Red Roses attracted back-to-back record crowds in their home fixtures, with 15,836 watching them beat Ireland in Leicester.

"We need to keep fighting to be equal to the men," Bern said.

"To get the support the men do and the crowds the men do because we are showing we can do it. I hope we keep carrying that momentum."

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