What is the average salary of a Premiership Rugby Player?

Rugby finances have become quite the hot topic over the last few years, particularly with the sport struggling due to the impacts of COVID-19. So it might be interesting to take a look at how much Premiership Rugby players are paid. 

What is the average salary of a Premiership Rugby Player? In the 2020-21 season, the average salary of a senior-level Premiership Rugby player was £171,187, although this figure has likely slightly decreased with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

With Premiership Rugby introducing a salary cap, the league has started to become a lot more open about their finances. Part of this openness is a salary cap report which helped fans to know exactly how much players earn. 

The report said that the average salary of a senior player was £171,187. But the average changes quite quickly depending on a lot of factors. One of the key ones is international experience. Very experienced internationals with more than 50 caps receive an average of £325,306 per year. 

What is the highest-paid position in rugby? 

It is hardly surprising to hear that on average, the Fly Half is the highest-paid member of a professional rugby team. In Premiership Rugby, the average salary of a fly half is £175,679 which is above average for the entire league. 

The reason for this is that often the position is the most important one to a rugby team. Fly-halfs control the game in attack for their team. They also tend to be the one who is kicking for their teams and it is not a position that is easily filled. 

The premiership salary average is also likely the highest because in the 2020-21 season there were a lot of superstar fly halves in the Premiership. This included guys like Marcus Smith, Owen Farrell, George Ford, Dan Biggar and Rhys Priestland. 

Around the world, rugby finances are not quite as open and honest so we don’t know whether the fly-half is the highest paid position. But considering the position is often considered the most important on a rugby pitch, you would imagine that it is the highest paid position around the world. 

What is the lowest-paid position in rugby? 

The position with the lowest average salary is Hooker. The latest Premiership Rugby stats say that a Premiership Rugby Hooker who is at a professional level earns on average £113,115 per year. It is not massively surprising to see the Hooker being the lowest-paid position in rugby. 

Premiership Rugby does not have a massive amount of superstars from the position and it is a position that is not as important as a lot of others. It does seem harsh to have any position be the lowest paid in rugby, but there has to be one in the game of rugby.

Why does Premiership Rugby have a salary cap?

One of the most talked about things in Premiership Rugby at the moment is the salary cap. When rugby became professional in the 1990s, the people in charge wanted to make sure that Premiership Rugby could be financially viable long into the future and that they might struggle if player salaries skyrocket. 

It is why the salary cap was introduced and Premiership Rugby has outlined the exact reasons why it was introduced. The crucial part is that it ensures the financial viability of all the teams and the competition in general. 

Part of it was to make the playing field a lot more level. In the Premier League, it tends to just be the richest teams in the world who win almost every year. The league position tends to be decided by the amount of money that a team has. Rugby did not want to go this way. 

They introduced a salary cap so that the playing field was level and so the wealth of an owner should not have a massive impact on the quality of their team. Having all of these teams competing on a level playing field also makes the competition much more exciting and should make the games more exciting. Any sport can be boring when it is one team dominating, so a salary cap helps to make the competition much more competitive. 

How much is the Premiership Rugby Salary Cap? 

In the 2021-22 season, the Premiership Rugby salary cap was £5 million, but there are a few different credits for specific purposes. The first credit is a Home Grown Player Credit which is around £600,000. It is put in place to incentivise teams to keep hold of homegrown players and try to develop them into stars. 

There is also an exception for players who act as cover when players are absent on international duty. This credit is limited to £400,000. Replacement player credits total £400,000 and helps a team cover long-term injuries. Any team is also allowed to exclude two players’ salaries from the team’s salary cap. Teams will usually reserve this for their highest-paid player. 

English Rugby Salary cap rules 

Premiership Rugby has been very clear about the different rules surrounding the salary cap. The major one of course is that you cannot exceed the cap. It is different to the NBA salary cap as this is a hard cap which cannot be exceeded in pretty much any circumstances, as the league has already prepared for a lot of scenarios that might cause a team to go over the salary cap. 

While the salary cap strictly talks about the salary that a player is paid by their team, there are also rules around other payments. In the past, we have seen teams make payments through investing in companies or trying to pay more by claiming it as an image rights payment. 

Premiership Rugby is very clear that payments from the team to the player have to be included in the salary cap estimations. The items that are included in the salary cap are; wage, bonus, image rights and termination payments, with the full list being set up by Premiership Rugby to every club. There are a few types of payments that are excluded from salary cap calculations. 

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