World Rugby

The Highest-Paid Rugby Player Is Finn Russell, But Who's In The Top 10?

The Highest-Paid Rugby Player Is Finn Russell, But Who's In The Top 10?

The highest-paid rugby player is Scotland and Bath fly-half Finn Russell. Here's a look at Russell and the rest of the top 10.

Mar 29, 2024 by Philip Bendon
Finn Russell Lands A Long Range Penalty

Quite possibly the toughest sport in the world due to its immensely physical nature, rugby union is not a game for the faint heated. 

Whilst the thought of tackling giant human beings on a weekly basis is not everybody’s idea of an ideal career choice, some athletes are born for the challenge. 

Unlike their soccer-playing colleagues, Rugby players are relatively underpaid for what they put their bodies through in what is a relatively short career, all things considered. 

Thus, this list of the top ten earners in the sport has more than earned their paycheques as they routinely put their bodies on the line in the modern-day version of Gladiatorial combat. 

*Please note that these salaries do not include external wages from sponsorships and, in certain cases, international match fees, etc.* 

10. Handre Pollard – Leicester Tigers & South Africa - $768,000 (Per Season)

Double World Cup-winning Springbok Handre Pollard is one of the top fly-halves in World Rugby. 

A field general who possesses an exceptional kicking and passing game while also being immensely physical in both attack and defence, Pollard is the complete package. 

Joining the Leicester Tigers from the French side of Montpellier, the South African went from being one of the top-paid players in the Top 14 to having the biggest salary in the Premiership. 

At just 29 years old, Pollard looks to have plenty more years in both the Springbok and Tigers jerseys to win titles. 

9. Tadhg Furlong - Leinster & Ireland - $850,000 (Per Season)

Ireland star tighthead prop Furlong has been the best in his position for the past five years and is rightly reported to be the highest-paid Irish player in 2024. 

An automatic first choice for both his province and country when fit, the 31-year-old benefits from the exceptional Irish Rugby player management set-up.

Should he stay fit then he will likely play a key role for Ireland at the 2027 Rugby Wordl Cup.

8. Antoine Dupont - Toulouse & France - $900,000 (Per Season)

Quite possibly the best player in the world at the time of writing, the regular French captain has temporarily defected to 7s rugby in a bid to win an Olympic Gold in his home country. Usually the best player on the pitch in just about every fixture he plays, Dupont is at times unplayable. 

Now, balancing his time between the 7s program and Toulouse, Dupont remains the highest-paid French player and is a true superstar in the wider French public.

7.  Dan Biggar – Toulon & Wales - $994,000 (Per Season)

Former Welsh captain Dan Biggar remains an integral part of his national team. 

Having recently signed with French side Toulon from English Premiership team Northampton, Biggar has cashed in as he approaches his final seasons. 

Now 33 years old, it is feasible to believe that Biggar could well play for another 3-4 seasons in the Top 14. 

6. Maro Itoje – Saracens & England - $994,000 (Per Season)

Generational talent Itoje has been a stalwart of the English national team since making his debut in 2016. 

Successful at every level, Itoje’s impressive includes a U20 World Championship title, four English Premierships, three Heineken Champions Cup titles, three Six Nations titles, including one Grand Slam and a runner-up medal from the 2019 Rugby World Cup. 

5. Owen Farrell – Racing 92 & England – $1,056,000 (Per Season)

England and Saracens captain Owen Farrell has become one of the most influential players in English Rugby history since making his debut in 2012. 

Currently sitting on 106 test caps, the 31-year-old still has plenty left in the tank and could cash in further, should he decide to take up a big-money contract in France or Japan. 

Son of current Irish head coach Andy, the Farrell name is synonymous with greatness in both Rugby Union and Rugby League. 

Owen Farrell, woof. Wonder if he'd be a good fly-half for England...

— Ben Coles (@bencoles_) December 31, 2022

4. Siya Kolisi - Racing 92 & South Africa - $1,030,300 (Per Season)

One of two double Rugby World Cup-winning captains, South Africa's iconic leader was a major target for just about every big club in the World last season. 

Signing on the dotted line for Parisian club Racing 92, the backrow was brought in to take the talented-laden squad to titles. 

3.  Faf de Klerk - Yokohama Canon Eagles & South Africa - $1.1 Million (Per Season)

Starting two World Cup finals alongside Handre Pollard in the Springbok halfbacks, de Klerk left the rigors of the Gallagher Premiership for a big money deal in Japan. 

Playing alongside fellow double World Cup winner Jesse Kriel and other South Africans Rohan Janse van Rensburg and SP Marais, de Klerk and his teammates are among the hot favourites to win the league this season.

2. Cheslin Kolbe – Suntory Sungoliath & South Africa - $1.13 Million (Per Season)

Double World Cup-winning Springbok Cheslin Kolbe is one of the most electric talents in the international game today. 

A sidestepping magician, Kolbe bamboozles defenders with his lightning-quick feet, unmatched pace and creative thinking. 

At 30 years old, Kolbe has several top-level seasons ahead of him, which has seen a bidding war break out for his services. 

Leaving French powerhouse Toulon last season, Kolbe now plays for Japanese outfit Suntory Sungoliath alongside All Blacks captain Sam Cane.

1. Finn Russell – Bath & Scotland - $1.3 Million (Per Season)

Scottish fly-half Finn Russell is regarded as one of the most skilful professional rugby players in the world. 

Seemingly capable of creating magic out of nothing, the Scottish international plies his trade with French Top 14 giant Racing 92 but has signed a contract to play for English Premiership side Bath from next season. 

Signing for a reported £1,000,000 per season, Russell will become one of the highest-paid players in the Premiership and for good reason. 

At 30-years-old, Russell is smack in the middle of his prime as a fly-half and looks to be a dominant force for the next few years at the very least. 

Honorable Mention

Eben Etzebeth – The giant Springbok lock was previously one of the highest-paid players in the world while at Toulon. 

Commanding over $1 million per season at the French club. He has since returned to South Africa with the United Rugby Championship side, the Cell C Sharks. 

Beauden Barrett – All-Blacks stalwart Barrett is a two-time World Player of the Year and an All-Blacks centurion. 

Regarded as one of the most exciting players in the game’s history, Barrett was a member of the All Blacks 2015 Rugby World Cup-winning squad and remains a key component to the team heading into this year’s World Cup. 

Barrett reportedly was on just a fraction below $1 million during his time playing in the Japanese top league, but his New Zealand Rugby contract is worth a reported $670,000 per season.

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