Details of the new deal appear on the official RFU site :
England Rugby Ltd has reached an agreement for the implementation of the Elite Player Squad (EPS) Programme, which will come into immediate effect. The agreement runs from the 2003/04 season to October 31st 2007.
The EPS programme will be centrally managed by the RFU Performance Director, Chris Spice, on behalf of ERL, working in association with Phil Winstanley, Rugby Manager of Premier Rugby.
Elite Player Support.The 60 EPS players, who will be announced at the start of each season, will have an individually agreed playing, training and rest programme. The programmes will be agreed between the England coaches, led by Clive Woodward, and the Zurich Premiership Directors of Rugby. The annual plans will be completed by September 1st each year and updated in January and April of the same season.
EPS Training Days.An agreement has been reached that there will be 16 EPS training days in seasons 2004/05, 2005/06, 2006/07 in addition to the normal release weeks prior to international matches. The England Head Coach will also have access to EPS players throughout the summer directly prior to the RWC 2007. The majority of the training days will take place prior to the autumn internationals and the RBS 6 Nations Championship. The England Head Coach will determine the training days by August 1st of each year of the agreement.
11 week preparation for the season.There will be an off season of 11 weeks for each EPS player, which will take effect from the end of the players' last game of the season and will be managed by the Performance Director. The Performance Director will have the discretion to vary the 11 week rest period if he is satisfied that the player does not require the full 11 week rest period due to his lack of match exposure in the previous EPS season.
International Weeks.In future, squads will be announced 10 days before an international with squads restricted to 30 players. A party of up to 37 players will be available for summer tours. A senior tour will not take place in a Lions year, although an England XV will travel to Canada for the Churchill Cup. Squad announcements before a summer tour will be made 14 days prior to departure. Players not required for a test match must be released by 7pm on the Tuesday before a Friday or Saturday game and 7pm on Wednesday if the match is being played on a Sunday.