Women's rugby could be fully professional by the end of the year - RFU chief

England captain Sarah Hunter lifts the trophy for her side's series victory over Canada in the Old Mutual Weal Series. David Rogers - RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images

Women's rugby could be fully professional by the end of the year, according to Rugby Football Union (RFU) Chief Exec Steve Brown.

The sport governing body controversially terminated the women's fifteens professional contracts after the 2017 World Cup opting instead to focus on sevens.

But in comments demonstrating a change of direction, Brown revealed the RFU has reached "crunch time" as it examines its options in the hope of fully professionalising the women's game this season.

"Our ambition is to professionalise both the XVs and sevens game during the coming season," Brown told BBC Sport.

"We've had a half-and-half situation for the last couple of seasons but we will professionalise both games as quickly as we can possibly afford it."

On the past decision to focus on sevens and not 15s, Brown added: "The sevens contracts was a compromise position. We want to get both of them fully established, but one key thing is we need to have enough players in the system to make it work which is why growing participation is so key, we need talent coming through."

ESPN are awaiting further comment from the RFU.