Highest paid rugby union players 2020

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Rugby union players can be well paid, and despite the pandemic, there are still plenty of lucrative contracts out there. Looking at various media sources, Last Word has identified the highest-paid rugby union players in the world. 

14th. Faf de Klerk – £500,000

The Sale Sharks and World Cup-winning scrum-half is pocketing half a million pounds in his latest contract, and it’s worth every penny. The dynamic nine adds a potent accuracy and dynamism to his teams’ attack.

13th. Finn Russell – £535,000

The Scottish fly-half is picking up a mint at Racing, where he applies his trade in the French Top14. He may be out of favour with Gregor Townsend, for now at least, but his high earnings is sure to help soothe the wounds on that front.

12th. Johnny Sexton – £536,000

Ireland’s premier outside half is a key man to both his country and Leinster when fit. His drop goal against France in this year’s Six Nations proving just how much of a match-winner he truly is.

11th. Stuart Hogg – £550,000

Exeter’s big arrival at Sandy Park sees him climb to 11th on this list, and boy is he worth it. His strong runs from deep and cannon of a boot make him a superb addition to Rob Baxter’s side.

10th. Michael Hooper – £572,000

The Waratahs and Australia openside has been a menace for opposition players for nearly a decade now. His jackalling ability has earned him the right to make the top 10 richest rugby players, based on current contracts.

Joint 8th. Morgan Parra/Nicolas Sanchez – £580,000

Parra, who has racked up over 300 games for Clermont has been a stalwart of French rugby since 2006. His leadership and kicking ability have earned him a sweet contract that pushed £600k.

Sanchez, who won the golden boot at the 2015 Rugby World Cup, also plays his rugby in France, with Stade Francais. It’s no surprise that the Top14 holds such quality when you consider their salary cap stood at nearly £10m prior to pandemic alterations.

7th. Dan Biggar – £600,000

When the fly-half left Wales for Northampton he knew he’d retain his international spot, whilst earning a strong living for himself. He’s the only Welshman to feature on the list and doesn’t look set to leave Saints any time soon.

6th. Steven Luatua – £650,000

The Bristol Bears flanker has been with the club since 2017, and holds a strong contract for good reason. His uncompromising style and power have seen him earn 15 All Blacks caps on top of his other accolades.

5th. Owen Farrell – £750,000

Owen Farrell is arguably the best player in world rugby today, therefore it’s no surprise that he picks up three-quarters of a million quid through his club. Despite their dodgy salary cap manipulations, Farrell is worth his corn and displays his talent to great effect at Allianz Park.

4th. Beauden Barrett – £780,000

Barrett’s recent move to Japan has seen him climb to fourth in the world, and hasn’t even sacrificed his test career, returning in time for New Zealand’s next test series after a season in Japan’s Top League.

3rd. Maro Itoje – £875,000

Dubbed as the future England and Lions captain, Itoje has proven himself at the highest level of the game despite being just 25. His versatility is no doubt part of the massive contract he’s been given and he’ll look to continue this form for many years yet.

Joint 1st. Handre Pollard/Charles Piutau – £1,000,000

The rare million-pound club comprises just two players. World Cup-winning Pollard and Bristol’s star back Piutau. The two are game-changers and world-beaters, offering up what very few others can at the top level.

More than just contracts…

Most top players will also earn money via sponsorship deals, image rights or other business ventures, but let’s compare rugby union to other major sports across the world to see how it stacks up.

  • Football, Lionel Messi, £87.6m a year.
  • Baseball, Mike Trout, £339.4m over 12 years.
  • American football, Patrick Mahomes, £358.1m over 10 years (not all guaranteed money).
  • Rugby league, Daly Cherry-Evans, £723,000 in 2020.
  • Aussie rules, Jack Morton, £1.1m pre-COVID pay-cuts.
  • Basketball, Steph Curry, £31.8m in 2019/20.
  • Ice hockey, Auston Matthews, £12.6m in 2019/20.
  • Cricket, Virat Kohli, £2.069m, £19.1m after all endorsements.
  • Tennis, Roger Federer, £3.3m, £44.2m after all endorsements.
  • Golf, Tiger Woods, £4.13m, £51.7m after all endorsements.



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