Highest Paid Rugby Players - Top 10

While Rugby players do not earn the eye watering salaries of football players, a lot of them are still compensated well for playing at a high level. In this list, we’re going to look at the top 10 highest paid rugby players in the world.

10: Steven Luatua

Bristol Bears

£675,000 Per Year

We begin the list with one of the most experienced players on this list. Luatua made his New Zealand debut back in 2013 when he was selected in the squad for the 2013 Rugby Championship.

But Luatua failed to secure a consistent place in the squad and by 2017, he recognised that his All Blacks career was likely over. So the Blues forward decided to end his international career by leaving New Zealand and heading to Europe.

Luatua became one of the headline signings with the injection of funds to the Bristol Bears. Since then, Luatua has become a regular in this Bears team. The forward helped the Bears to finish top of the table in 2021. At age 31, he always contributes with a lot of experience, helping to bring through promising players.

He has now become an international star again, having been called up by Samoa thanks to the recent rule changes from World Rugby.

9: Michael Hooper


£700,000 Per Year

The Waratahs have never been the most successful team in Super Rugby but they do boast one of the best players in the world who is certainly compensated for his efforts.

Hooper began his career with the Brumbies, whose academy he had risen up through. The Waratahs signed him for the 2013 season and it was the perfect time as Hooper had a breakout season where he won the ARU’s Rookie of the Year.

Since then, Hooper has won the Waratahs Player of the Season award every year but one, totalling seven Matthew Burke Cup’s. He was also the captain of the Waratahs when they defeated the heavily favoured Crusaders in the Super Rugby Final, with Hooper playing the entire 80 minutes in the final.

The Waratahs will be incredibly proud of Hooper as he is now one of the greatest Australian internationals of all time and holds the record for the most caps as Wallabies captain. Hooper is undoubtably one of the best players in the world.

At a ruck it is incredibly difficult to get him off the ball when he gets a hold of it. Hooper is a tireless worker and he often leads his team in tackles. When Hooper does decide to retire he will go down as one of the greatest rugby players of all time.

8:Cheslin Kolbe


£750,000 Per Year

In terms of bringing in a crowd, Cheslin Kolbe is one of the best players in the world to watch. He began his career playing in South Africa, making his Stormers debut in 2013, winning the Currie Cup with the Western Province in 2014.

Kolbe was consistently part of the South Africa Sevens team but he did not get his international debut while playing in South Africa. His pace and quickness meant that he became an incredibly attractive asset to European clubs and he was signed by Toulouse, one of the best teams in the world at the time.

The South African winger became a crucial part of the Toulouse team that won Top 14 titles in 2019 and 2021, as well as a European Rugby Champions Cup Final in 2021. Kolbe played all 80 minutes in all three of those victorious finals and it finally meant he got his international recognition.

He made his international debut in 2018 and it was a great decision for the Springboks. Kolbe was crucial in South Africa winning the 2019 World Cup, scoring a crucial try in the final to secure the victory. It led him to becoming nominated for World Rugby Men’s 15s Player of the Year and seen as one of the best wingers in the world.

Kolbe was rewarded for his excellence when he decided to leave Toulouse, moving to Toulon in 2021 where he has played since. Kolbe has not played a massive amount since his move to Toulon but is fully healthy at the moment and forms one of the best wing partnerships in the world alongside Gabin Villiere.

7: Owen Farrell


£750,000 Per Year

The Farrell name is one of the best in Rugby history and Owen is still one of the best players in the world. Being the son of one of the best Rugby League players in Wigan history, Farrell was quickly into the youth academy’s in rugby and played for Saracens from a young age, even being in the squad at the same time as his father Andy.

Since making his Saracens debut in 2008, Farrell has been the leader of one of the best domestic teams in English history. With Farrell as the teams starting Fly-Half, Saracens have won five Premiership titles and three European Rugby Champions Cup titles. Farrell has been crucial to all of these.

His success has continued with England, as Farrell has won three Six Nations championships and he was crucial to the team that made it to the 2019 World Cup Final.

Farrell was one of the players who decided to stick with Saracens when they were relegated to the Championship due to salary cap violations. The amount that the team was paying to a player coming up on this list was a big bit of controversy.

But Farrell came through the academy ranks of Saracens thanks to his father finishing his career with the London side. He certainly deserves his superstar wages and Farrell could easily add another Premiership title soon now that Saracens are back in the Premiership.

6: Finn Russell

Racing 92

£850,000 Per Year

Scottish rugby has not always had a huge amount of superstars, but Finn Russell is certainly the best Scottish player in the last few years.

Russell had quite an interesting start to his rugby career, beginning with stints with Stirling County and Falkirk in between him playing for the Scottish U20 team. Russell had a short stint with Ayr before he went to the Lincoln University for 15 weeks and Russell has spoken about this time as being crucial to his development.

Russell returned from his time in New Zealand and began to excel with Glasgow and made his Scotland debut in 2014. Since then, Russell has become one of the best Scottish players in history and has been crucial to any success his side has had. Russell was so good that he was called up to the 2017 and 2021 Lions squads.

Domestically, Russell was one of the players to just be too big to play for Glasgow and he received a very handsome offer from French team Racing 92 for the 2018 season onwards. Russell was the man Racing decided to bring in to replace All Blacks legend Dan Carter, big shoes to fill for Russell.

But he has been excellent in his time in France and Racing 92 will be thrilled that Russell has been more available than expected after a falling out with Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend. He is one of the best players in the Top 14 and a wonderful player.

5:Eben Etzebeth


£850,000 Per Year

Throughout the last decade, Eben Etzebeth has been a monster internationally and domestically, which has recently earned him a very profitable contract.

In 2009, 18 year old Eben Etzebeth broke into the Western Province youth teams and made his senior debut with the Stormers three years later. What was particularly impressive about this 2012 campaign was that Etzebeth made his international debut the same year and he has been a mainstay in this team since.

Despite a couple of injuries, Etzebeth has been crucial to the South African team and one of the main reasons why the Springboks won the World Cup in 2019. Etzebeth is a terror at the lineout and one of the most difficult players to play against in the world.

This reputation earnt him a big money move to Toulon in 2019, but his time in France was not great. Etzebeth rarely played for the side as he struggled with injury, and he was part of two Challenge Cup Final losses.

He decided to make a return to South Africa in 2022 after three years out of the country with France. He decided to return with the Sharks and Etzebeth now plays alongside international superstars like Siya Kolisi, Bongi Mbonambi and Lukhanyo Am.

Etzebeth is certainly well compensated for his time and he is paid like one of the best players in the world for a reason. Etzebeth will be crucial if the Sharks want to win the United Rugby Championship.

4:Maro Itoje


£860,000 Per Year

It is pretty surprising that Maro Itoje is still just 28 years old considering it seems as though he has been playing at an incredibly high level for such a long period of time.

Itoke broke into the Saracens team aged just 19, making his senior debut in the Anglo-Welsh Cup and made his Premiership debut later that season. It was an impressive feat to break into this Saracens team as they were winning titles before Itoje joined the team, but he has certainly made a difference since.

In his time with Saracens, Itoje has won the Premiership four times and is a three time winner of the European Champions Cup. That 2015-16 double was particularly impressive as Itoje won European Player of the Year as well as being nominated for World Rugby Player of the Year, the first of three nominations in his career at the time of writing.

Internationally, Itoje has been one of England’s best players over the last five years, crucial in them winning three Six Nations championships. Itoje’s performance in the 2019 World Cup semi-final against New Zealand is one of the best we have ever seen as England would not have made the final without him.

Itoje’s salary is a controversial one as it was one of the main things put into question when Saracens were indicted for breaching the salary cap. Saracen’s were paying Itoje outside of the salary cap and it was part of why they were relegated.

But this should not take away from the incredible player who Maro Itoje is, with the ability to grab the ball from a ruck with ease, and a real nuisance in the air at lineout time.

3:Dan Biggar


£1 Million Per Year

At just the age of 18, Dan Biggar made his debut for the Ospreys and made his international debut just a year later, but did not initially nail down a position in the team until the 2013 season, despite playing very well for the Ospreys over the last few years.

Since 2015, Biggar has been Wales starting 10 and deservedly so. He is a consistent goal kicker and crucial to the Welsh attack. It was a very successful move for Wales as the international side has enjoyed success under Biggar.

Wales reached the World Cup semi-final in 2019, eventually losing to winners South Africa. Biggar was also crucial in Wales winning the Six Nations in 2019 and 2021, winning the Grand Slam in 2019. Biggar has also played three test matches with the British and Irish Lions.

Biggar was part of the Ospreys for a decade, but he decided to make the move to Northampton Saints for the 2018-19 season onwards. With Northampton, Biggar made the Saints a competitive team once again and he was supposed to leave at the end of the 2022-23 season.

But towards the end of October, Biggar joined French side Toulon for a massive contract. There is not a lot of information on exactly how much the offer is, but Toulon will have saved a lot of money this summer when Eben Etzebeth, Leone Nakarawa, Quinn Roux and Louis Carbonel all went out the door.

Biggar will be brilliant in Top 14, similar to the success that Finn Russell has experienced.

2: Charles Piutau

Bristol Bears

£1 Million Per Year

When the Bristol Bears were given a very large bounty chest to spend on some of the best players in the world, they decided that Charles Piutau would be the teams big signing.

Born in Auckland to Tongan parents, Piutau got into rugby from a very early age, originally representing Tonga in the Junior World Championships. He started to come through the ranks of Auckland and then made his Blues debut two years later.

Piutau was quickly emerging as one of the best players in Super Rugby at a young age and so he was called up to the All Blacks squad, making his debut against France. But he could never nail down a position in the squad and was omitted from the 2015 World Cup squad, a big reason why he decided to move to Europe.

He began with a year with Wasps where Piutau was named in the Premiership Team of the Season and nominated for the Player of the Year title. After a two year spell with Ulster, he was signed to Bristol.

Since signing for Bristol, Piutau has been one of the most exciting players in the Premiership and he is such a difficult man to stop. He can glide past defenders with ease and still manages to find the offload when needed. It seems likely that he will be on his way out after this season with Bristol signing Max Malins as his replacement.

1: Handre Pollard

Leicester Tigers

£1.52 Million Per Year

Losing George Ford was a big loss for Leicester Tigers and the reports have said that they have decided to make Handre Pollard the highest paid player in the world as his replacement.

Pollard made his domestic debut in 2014, becoming a key part of the Bulls squad the same year that he made his international debut. Just a year after making his Bulls debut, Pollard was the teams goal kicker for the 2015 Rugby World Cup and stayed with the Bulls until after the next World Cup.

In May 2019, Pollard announced he would join Montpellier after the World Cup, with Pollard going on to win the World Cup with the Springboks. He was successful with the French side as well, despite his number 10 spot being taken by Italian youngster Paolo Garbisi.

Pollard came off the bench as Montpellier won the 2022 Top 14 championship. The final ended up being his last game for the side as he made the move to English champions Leicester Tigers in the summer.

It was a massive summer for Leicester and they had some money to play with after superstars Ellis Genge, George Ford and Matias Moroni all left. Pollard is the replacement for Ford and he has time to bed into the squad, with Freddie Burns a reliable man at 10.

Pollard will eventually step in when he is fully healthy and Leicester will be hoping he can lead them to another Premiership title.

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