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England women agree new pay deal with RFU

England women will be paid squad and match fees. Credit: PA

England's women are to be paid squad and match fees after a deal lasting one year was agreed with the Rugby Football Union.

The new arrangement has been finalised in time for the three-match series against Canada, which opens on Friday night, and will include the Six Nations.

It is the first time that squad and match fees - understood to be worth a total in the region of £5,000 for a player who features in every game this month - have been paid.

Previously, players were contracted to the RFU for the duration of a year.

"We have been working with the Rugby Players Association and a representative group of players to agree a pay structure," an RFU spokeswoman said.

"The pay deal includes squad and match fees and is another step forward in our drive to professionalise the women's game in England."

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Laidlaw ruled out of Scotland's Autumn tests

Greig Laidlaw has fractured his ankle. Credit: PA

Scotland skipper Greig Laidlaw has been ruled out of the Dark Blues' autumn Tests after fracturing his ankle, his club side Clermont Auvergne have announced.

The former Edinburgh and Gloucester scrum-half suffered the injury during the French outfit's Champions Cup clash with Ospreys on Sunday.

Although he does not require surgery, Laidlaw has been told he faces 10 to 12 weeks out of action - meaning he will play no part as Gregor Townsend's Scots host Samoa, New Zealand and Australia at BT Murrayfield next month.

He is expected to return to action, however, in time to lead out Scotland for their RBS 6 Nations opener against Wales in Cardiff at the start of February.

It has not been confirmed whether his most recent injury is to the same joint he damaged during this year's Championships.

He tore ankle ligaments in his side's defeat to France in Paris and has not pulled on a dark blue strip since. He missed Scotland's summer Asia-Pacific tour after being called up for duty with the British and Irish Lions on their trip to New Zealand.

Wales closing on eventual successor to Gatland

Gareth Davies says Wales aren't far away from finding Gatland's replacement. Credit: PA

Wales hope to announce Warren Gatland's successor as national head coach by next summer.

New Zealander Gatland, who has been in charge of Wales since late 2007, will leave his post after the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

It is understood that a list of eight possible contenders has already been whittled down to three candidates.

Speaking to reporters after the Welsh Rugby Union annual general meeting on Sunday, WRU chairman and former Wales fly-half Gareth Davies said: "We have got a target of announcing the new Wales head coach by the summer of 2018.

"We have been very busy boys over the last six months talking to various people, and we are making progress on that.

"We have caught up with various people when we've had the chance to do so."

Gatland's reign has harvested three Six Nations titles, two Grand Slams and an appearance in the 2011 World Cup semi-finals, when Wales were knocked out by France after skipper Sam Warburton was sent off.

Current Wales assistant coach Rob Howley, who has twice stepped up to the lead coach role for season-long stints when Gatland has been on British and Irish Lions duty, could be in the frame as a successor, while Wasps rugby director Dai Young also has his admirers.

"Warren hasn't been involved in the interview process so far," Davies added.

"But we will want to use him in the business moving forward in terms of who gets the job."

Gatland is set to announce his squad for the autumn Tests later this month, with Wales facing games against Australia, Georgia, New Zealand and South Africa between November 11 and December 2.

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