Women’s Six Nations prize money excluded for fear of making England even stronger

The prospect of prize money in the Women’s Six Nations Championship was ruled out due to claims that such an “illogical” move would only make top teams even stronger.

The Six Nations does not disclose its financial details, but a tenth of its annual income from the men’s tournament, which is reported to be around £16m, is paid out to the unions based on its results. However, there is no such distribution for the women’s tournament.

This year’s edition will end on Saturday when England and France face off in the Grand Slam decider at Bayonne, setting the pace again with four bonus points each and amassing 398 points over eight games.

But speaking ahead of the final round of the tournament, Ben Morel, CEO of the Six Nations, explained that the introduction of any performance-based financial rewards would only widen the “athletic gap” that already exists.

England are currently the only fully professional team, although Wales, who finish third, handed out 12 full-time and 15 part-time contracts.

“If we have the same system – obviously we still have more limited income from women, but if we have the same system – based on our first conversation about the sports gap, it’s a bit counterintuitive,” Morel. said.

“We want to make sure that weaker unions do not get further disadvantage because of this, even if it is limited. But at the same time, what each union does in terms of compensating and rewarding their players, they are in a completely different situation and [they’re] everyone goes their own way.

“Obviously we are all looking for significant growth to allow these things to happen. It’s not a lack of ambition or desire, it’s just a reality and I think the sporting gap is big.”

England’s 69-0 victory over Ireland last week attracted a peak BBC audience of 650,000, surpassing the 530,000 that were attracted by Tottenham’s 3-1 defeat by Chelsea in the Women’s Super League on the same day. and reflects the general trend that England’s game is constantly attracting attention. a higher audience for the BBC than for WSL matches.

But despite bringing in TikTok’s first title sponsor and the best broadcast coverage ever, the Women’s Championship is still considered to be operating at a loss, and Morel admits a strategic plan has not “yet” been put in place to make the Six Nations Women’s Championship profitable.

In what also takes a fresh look at TikTok’s participation – whose financial details remain unknown – Morel said there are currently no plans to shield funds for the women’s game from the “significant financial contribution” the social media giant has been making to the competition. .

Morel’s comments come less than 24 hours after Julie Elliot, MP for Sunderland, led a parliamentary debate on prize money in elite women’s sports, where she praised the Olx Praca’s “Close the Gap” campaign to address “shocking disparity” in prize money. money. between men’s and women’s sports.

Elliot specifically cited the Women’s Six Nations as an example where the respect given to female athletes was “clearly unfair” in the area of ​​prize money.

“It’s about respect,” Elliot said. “It takes extreme dedication to reach the level of the elite sport that these athletes play.

“It takes hours and hours of practice, energy and dedication to reach the top in a particular sport,” she said. “However, the nature of the unequal prize money means that the efforts of one are much more appreciated than the other. In some cases, ten, twenty times more.”