World Rugby

The Highest Paid Rugby Player Is Handre Pollard. Here's The Top 10

The Highest Paid Rugby Player Is Handre Pollard. Here's The Top 10

The Highest Paid Rugby Player is Springbok and Leicester Tiger Flyhalf Handre Pollard. Here's The Top 10 list.

Apr 18, 2023 by Philip Bendon
The Highest Paid Rugby Player Is Handre Pollard. Here's The Top 10

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 everybodyโ€™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 earnt 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. Jonathan Sexton โ€“ Leinster & Ireland - $770,000 per season 

Leinster and Ireland captain Jonathan Sexton has been one of the top players in the game since bursting onto the scene in 2009. Winning four Heineken Champions Cups, six Celtic League (now URC) titles and four Six Nations, including two Grand Slams. On top of the silverware, Sexton leads Ireland to a first-ever series win in New Zealand over the mighty All Blacks. Now heading for retirement at the conclusion of this yearโ€™s Rugby World Cup, the stalwart will bow out of the game as one of the greatest to ever play. 

9. Steven Luatua โ€“ Bristol & New Zealand - $770,000 per season 

31-year-old Luatua is a 15-time capped New Zealand AllBlack who sent shockwaves around New Zealand when he left his international career behind for English Premiership side Bristol Bears. Signing for a whopping ยฃ620,000 ($770,000) per season, Luatua became one of the highest-paid players in the world. 

8. Morgan Parra โ€“ Clermont & France - $770,000 per season 

Formerly a stalwart of the French national team, 34-year-old Morgan Parra is in the twilight of his professional career. Announcing that he will retire at the end of the season, Parra will bring down the curtain on a professional career that began back in 2006. Representing France on 71 occasions whilst scoring 370 points, Parra will go down as one of the greatest players to have ever pulled on the blue jersey. Career highlights include two French Top 14 titles, two Six Nations titles and a runners-up medal at the 2011 World Cup. 

7.  Dan Biggar โ€“ 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 three/four seasons in the Top 14. 

6. Maro Itoje โ€“ 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, Itojeโ€™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 runners-up medal from the 2019 Rugby World Cup. 

5. Cheslin Kolbe โ€“ Toulon & South Africa - $1,000,000 

2019 Springbok World Cup winner 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 29 years old, Kolbe has several top-level seasons ahead of him, which has seen a bidding war break out for his services. Currently, he remains contracted to French powerhouse Toulon, but the French club are facing stiff competition from Japanese clubs for his services. Donโ€™t be surprised if he is the top-paid player in the game come next season. 

4. Owen Farrell โ€“ Saracens & England โ€“ $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...

โ€” Ben Coles (@bencoles_) December 31, 2022

3.  Charles Piutau โ€“ Bristol & Tonga - $1,250,000 

Former All Black turned Tongan international; Charles Piutau became the highest-paid player in professional rugby back in 2018 when he signed for English Premiership side Bristol. Piutauโ€™s defection away from New Zealand rugby in 2015, when he left to join the English Premiership club, Wasps, was one of the biggest news stories in the game. Leaving at just 23 years old, the fullback was regarded as one of the brightest prospects in international rugby. Thus, his departure from the international stage was immensely disappointing for the All Blacks. Now eligible for the country of his birth Tonga, Piutau looks set to feature at the 2023 Rugby World Cup. 

2. Finn Russell โ€“ Bath & Scotland - $1,250,000 

Scottish flyhalf 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 currently plies his trade with French Top 14 giants Racing 92 but has signed a contract to play for English Premiership side Bath from next season. Signing for a reported ยฃ1,000,000 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 flyhalf and looks to be a dominant force for the next few years at the very least. 

1. Handre Pollard โ€“ Leicester Tigers & South Africa - $1,800,000 per season

Another World Cup-winning Springbok, Handre Pollard, is one of the top flyhalves in World Rugby. A field general who possesses an exceptional kicking and passing game whilst also being immensely physical in both attack and defence, Pollard is the complete package. Joining Leicester Tigers from French side Montpellier, the South African went from being one of the top-paid players in the Top 14 to the biggest salary in the Premiership. At just 29 years old, Pollard looks to have plenty more years in both the Springbok and Tigers jersey to win titles. 

Honourable mentions:

Eben Etzebeth โ€“ The giant Springbok lock was previously one of the highest-paid players in the world whilst at Toulon. Commanding over $1,000,000 per season at the French club. He has since returned to South Africa with the United Rugby Championship side, the Cell C Sharks. 

Nicolas Sanchez โ€“ Argentina international Sanchez just missed the list coming in a fraction behind Sexton. Earning a reported $770,000 per season for French Top 14 side Stade Francais. 

Michael Hooper โ€“ Wallaby veteran and long-time captain Michael Hooper has been one of the most dynamic backrow players in the game for over a decade. Playing 124 times for Australia, the 31-year-old has recently hinted that he may retire at the end of the season. Hooper earns a reported $650,000 from his contract with the New South Wales Waratahs.

Beauden Barrett โ€“ All Black stalwart Barrett is a two-time World Player of the Year and an All Black centurion. Regarded as one of the most exciting players in the gameโ€™s history, Barrett was a member of the All Blacks 2015 Rugby World Cup winning squad and remains a key component to their team heading into this yearโ€™s World Cup. Barrett was reportedly on just a fraction below $1,000,000 during his time playing in the Japanese top league, but his New Zealand Rugby contract is worth a reported $670,000 per season.