RFU clinch England elite player deal
A new four-year England elite player squad agreement has been announced between the Rugby Football Union, the Rugby Players' Association and Premiership Rugby.
The arrangement covers England senior, Saxons and Under-20 squads until June 30, 2016, and includes confirmation of squad and match fees and performance bonuses.
The RFU said that together with an existing Heads of Agreement between the RFU and Premiership Rugby, it ensured "a stable future for club and country" beyond the 2015 World Cup.
The news is a further boost for England head coach Stuart Lancaster, who is currently preparing for the RBS 6 Nations Championship on the back of a famous victory over world champions New Zealand.
RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie said: "This agreement is another major step forward for the RFU, players and the clubs. I would like to thank the RPA and Premiership Rugby for their co-operation and for reinforcing the partnership we enjoy.
"One of the strengths of the English game is that we have enshrined in contract the release of players from their clubs, which gives Stuart Lancaster and his coaches confidence in their availability. Now this new agreement has been reached, we have stability and everyone pulling in the right direction through to the Rugby World Cup in 2015 and beyond."
The news was also welcomed by RPA chief executive Damian Hopley, who added: "All parties wanted to ensure that we built on the foundations and progress made by Stuart Lancaster and the squad in the last 12 months.
"The new contract duly recognises the efforts made by all 33 of the senior EPS, as well as the increasing overall value of the players to the RFU and their partners.
"We look forward to working collaboratively with the England squad and the RFU to deliver these rights, and I would like to thank the England Players' Committee for their invaluable and professional input throughout these good-natured negotiations."
And Premiership Rugby chief executive Mark McCafferty said: "We are delighted to be playing our part in giving Stuart Lancaster and the England team everything they need on the road to 2015. We look forward to the continued support of the players and the RFU to ensure Aviva Premiership rugby goes from strength to strength."