Scottish Rugby increase contracted female players to eight

Helen Nelson in action for Scotland in this year's Six Nations
Scotland lost four of their five Six Nations matches this season

Scottish Rugby has more than doubled their number of contracted female players, awarding eight new deals.

Jade Konkel, Chloe Rollie and Lisa Thomson continue to receive funding from the governing body.

And they are joined by fellow caps Sarah Bonar, Megan Kennedy, Lisa Martin, Helen Nelson and Lana Skeldon.

The SRU is also continuing its partnership with French side Stade Nicois, to whom it will send six male players for the 2018-19 season.

The female contracts are central to Scottish Rugby's goal of securing qualification for Women's Rugby World Cup 2021.

"They are about providing a flexible, athlete-centred approach that works for each individual and their ambitions in rugby and beyond," said the governing body's head of women & girls rugby, Gemma Fay.

"Having players training and playing in a more competitive environment, more often, can only be good for Scotland Women and the women's game more broadly."

Scotland's full-time female players

Stade Nicois earned promotion to French rugby's third tier last term, aided by Scots hooker Dave Cherry, back-row Bruce Flockhart and fly-half Josh Henderson.

The trio have returned to sign terms with Edinburgh, Glasgow Warriors and Scotland Sevens respectively.

The new group heading to France for the coming season comprises academy players Hamish Bain, Cameron Hutchinson, and Archie Eskine, former Yorkshire Carnegie prop Charlie Capps, and ex-Edinburgh back Nick McLennan.

Scotland back-row Tyrone Holmes remains with Stade Nicois for a second season, combining his playing duties with a strength and conditioning coaching role.

"We received some very positive and regular feedback on the contribution the on-loan Scots made to the campaign," said Scottish Rugby's technical director, Stephen Gemmell.

"As the club moves into a higher league we have identified a new group of players who will have the opportunity to develop their careers and broaden their wider experience through living and playing in a different country."

Scottish Rugby Stade Nicois intake
Five new players, including Hamish Bain (pictured), will join Tyrone Holmes at Stade Nicois