Two Cumbrian stars have been awarded new contracts with the England women’s rugby union team.

Cath O’Donnell and Abbie Ward are among 32 players to be handed deals in the Red Roses set-up.

Loughborough Lightning star O’Donnell, from Maryport, featured recently for England in their successful Six Nations campaign.

Bristol Bears player Ward, from Keswick, is also an England regular and is expecting her first child this autumn.

The Cumbrians are among those selected by incoming Red Roses head coach John Mitchell and his coaching team.

In a statement, England said the contracts were agreed in collaboration with the Rugby Players’ Association and player representatives, and will cover salaries, match fees, Rugby World Cup 2025 arrangements, commercial and community engagement initiatives and an agreement around revenue sharing.

They said the three-season agreement, up to 2026, includes 32 contracts of varying length.

"We are pleased to confirm the players offered contracts who will form the Red Roses contracted player squad for the 2023/24 season," said head of women’s performance Charlie Hayter.

"This is a hugely exciting time for the Red Roses, especially with our home World Cup on the horizon in 2025.

“However, we know there is a lot of work to do before then, and we are excited to bring the group together shortly to start preparations for WXV which will be the immediate focus for us all."