TWO rugby players from St Davids have made history by becoming the first full-time Wales Women's team members to be contracted by the Welsh Rugby Union.

Wingers Jasmine Joyce and Lisa Neumann, both former pupils at Ysgol Dewi Sant, are among the first cohort of players to sign professional contracts with the WRU.

Twelve players in total have accepted full-time contracts, which came into force this week, with players and management based at the National Centre of Excellence.

Bristol Bears flyer Joyce, who represented the Team GB sevens team at the Olympics last year, and has been capped 20 times for Wales in the 15-player code, spoke of her delight.

"It’s going to make a huge difference for 12 players to be full-time, it’s just what we need as a squad moving into the Six Nations and then the Rugby World Cup," she said.

"There are some very exciting times ahead, it's something we have all waited patiently for, and are finally being given our opportunity. I can't wait to live my dream job for another year."

Joyce, 26, who was named in World Rugby's women's 15s dream team for 2021, will complete her PGCE teaching placement with University of Wales Trinity St David this month, before joining the programme full-time.

Meanwhile Sale Sharks winger Neumann, who has been capped 22 times for Wales in the 15-a-side game, has left her position as a Senior Clinical Trials Data Manager to take up the full-time contract.

“I was shocked to be offered a full-time contract, but chuffed to bits," said the 28 year-old.

"The biggest thing for me based in Manchester, is that I will be able to train, recover and be the best I can be in the build-up to the Six Nations and World Cup.”

Wales Women head coach Ioan Cunningham said: “It’s been a tough, but enjoyable process.

"Credit to all the players who have given us selection headaches. We are all now super excited to get the programme started.

"Talent and ability was the first element in our selection process and then the potential growth of the individual player along with their attitude.

“The conversations offering contracts were nice ones to have if often quite emotional.

"Some of the players had logistic issues to work through from a personal and professional perspective but it’s great to have them at the National Centre of Excellence now as we start to put the foundations in place for improvement.

"We have developed close working relationships with the players’ Allianz Premier 15s clubs and I’m confident our programme will prove beneficial for all parties.

"We had to be fairly clinical and even ruthless. We clearly have short and medium term goals in terms of the Six Nations and the Rugby World Cup but we also have an eye on developing the best players for the future of Welsh rugby.

"Overall, we have gone for the players we feel could make the biggest gains at this time, not forgetting the contribution the players who receive retainer contracts will also make to the programme.

"Lisa Neumann is a powerful, attacking runner and Jaz’s talents are clearly already world-class with one of the best strike rates in world rugby.

"But having these players in full-time will give them a chance to develop all aspects of their game and become even better athletes and rugby players.”