How Much Do Rugby Players Make?

Rugby, a sport beloved for its intensity and camaraderie, offers varying financial rewards to its players depending on several factors. These include the player’s skill level, the league they play in, and their geographic location. This article delves into the earnings of rugby players across different regions and factors influencing their salaries.

The Financial Landscape of Rugby

Rugby is played professionally across the globe, with significant leagues in Europe, the Southern Hemisphere, and North America. Each of these regions has its financial structures and salary scales for players.


England: The English Premiership is among the most lucrative rugby leagues worldwide. Average salaries here are around £120,000 ($150,000) per year, but top-tier players can earn substantially more, with some commanding salaries of up to £500,000 ($625,000) annually.

France: The French Top 14 league is known for its high player salaries. The average salary in this league is approximately €250,000 ($280,000) annually. Star players can earn over €1 million ($1.12 million) per year, making it one of the highest-paying rugby leagues globally.

Southern Hemisphere

New Zealand and Australia: In these countries, rugby is primarily organized under Super Rugby, which also includes teams from South Africa. Average player salaries range from $75,000 to $200,000 annually. However, top players can earn around $500,000, including earnings from endorsements and international matches.

South Africa: Salaries in South Africa are generally lower due to the weaker currency. However, top players still earn competitive salaries, especially if they secure contracts with European clubs.

North America

Major League Rugby (MLR): Rugby is growing in North America, and Major League Rugby (MLR) is leading the charge. Salaries in MLR are currently lower compared to established rugby nations, with the average salary around $25,000 to $45,000 per year. However, top players can earn up to $70,000, and the league’s growth promises higher earnings in the future.

Factors Influencing Rugby Salaries

Several factors determine how much a rugby player can earn, including their skill level, position, experience, and marketability.

Skill Level and Position

Players who are highly skilled and play pivotal positions such as fly-half or center typically earn more. Their strategic importance and game impact make them valuable assets to their teams.

Experience and International Caps

Players with extensive international experience and those with numerous caps for their national team generally command higher salaries. Their experience and leadership qualities are highly sought after by clubs.

Sponsorships and Endorsements

Beyond their base salary, many players supplement their income through sponsorships and endorsements. High-profile players often secure lucrative deals with brands, significantly boosting their overall earnings.


A player’s marketability, influenced by their social media presence and public persona, can significantly impact their earning potential. Marketable players attract higher-paying sponsorship deals.

Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the financial landscape of rugby. With games postponed or canceled and stadiums empty due to lockdown measures, many clubs faced financial difficulties. This led to salary cuts and restructuring in various leagues. For instance, players in the English Premiership experienced temporary salary reductions to help clubs manage financial strains. While some of these cuts have been reversed, the pandemic underscored the economic vulnerabilities within professional rugby.

Women’s Rugby Salaries

Women’s rugby is gaining popularity, but financial compensation still lags behind men’s rugby. Most female rugby players do not earn enough to make rugby their sole source of income and often have to balance their sporting career with other jobs. However, there are signs of progress. In England, the Rugby Football Union (RFU) has been investing more in women’s rugby. Top players in the Women’s Super League can earn up to £30,000 ($37,500) annually. Efforts to professionalize women’s rugby globally are ongoing, aiming to provide better financial support for players.


The earnings of rugby players vary significantly based on their region, skill level, and marketability. While top players in premier leagues like the English Premiership and the French Top 14 can earn substantial salaries, many players in less prominent leagues or women’s rugby face financial challenges. The ongoing development and commercialization of rugby, particularly women’s rugby, holds promise for improved financial conditions in the future. As the sport continues to grow globally, the financial landscape for rugby players will likely become more competitive and lucrative.

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