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Wales flanker Sian Williams turns professional

Sian Williams has become Wales' first full-time professional female rugby player.

The 25-year-old flanker, who was born in Wrexham and plays for Worcester and Newport Gwent Dragons, has been awarded elite athlete status by the Royal Air Force to play rugby professionally.

It means that Williams, who joined the RAF eight years ago and is based at Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, will be able to train full-time as a rugby player.

Williams has won 20 caps and also represented Wales at sevens. She made her Test debut in 2011.

"I am at a point in my rugby career where I want to keep learning and keep getting better," she said.

"Achieving elite athlete status gives me time before the next Women's Rugby World Cup in 2017 to strive for excellence and do everything in my power to become a world-class rugby player."

And Welsh Rugby Union chief executive Martyn Phillips added: "It is fantastic that the RAF has recognised Sian's playing ability and commitment to the game in this way.

"As a Union, women's rugby is one of our key strategic priorities, and this recognition can only strengthen the quality of the national team and our efforts to encourage more women and girls to get involved."

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