LONDON — As rugby players in the northern hemisphere enjoy a well-earned break after a season which lasted almost a full year, the transfer rumours have begun.
The latest is a report in The Rugby Paper, which claims that Finn Russell has been offered a contract worth in excess of £1million per season by Japanese club Green Rockets Tokatsu.
Were Scotland’s fly-half to make the switch, it would make him the highest-paid rugby player on the planet, according to the reported top-earners in the game.
So what about them? Ever wondered who the best-paid players in the world are?
Here are the reported salaries of the game’s biggest earners:
T1. Handre Pollard (South Africa) — £1million
The Springbok flyhalf moved alongside New Zealand centre Charles Piutau as the joint-highest paid player on the planet when he signed for French side Montpellier after the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
Montpellier reportedly pays Pollard around £1million per year, the current benchmark among rugby union’s highest earners.
T1. Charles Piutau (New Zeland) — £1million
For some time, the New Zealander has been reported to be earning £1million at English side Bristol Bears and he became the first player in British rugby to do so. The x-All Blacks speedster deserted his international ambitions at the premature age of 23 when he signed a lucrative deal with PRO14 side Ulster in 2015, and then became British rugby’s first million-pound player when he joined Bristol three years later.
- Eben Etzebeth (South Africa) — £900,000
The Springbok enforcer, who plays for Toulon is in the midst of a three-year deal in the south of France and is widely reported to be earning just shy of £1million.
Etzebeth signed an extension with the French club in July, in a three-year deal that will keep him in the club till 2023.
- Finn Russell (Scotland) — £850,000
The talented fly-half signed a new three-year deal with French club Racing 92 last year. The Rugby Paper report he is earning as much as £850,000.
However, French rugby insiders have previously indicated to WalesOnline that the actual salary is likely to be far less than that given that Midi Olympique reported that he took a pay cut to stay in Paris.
- Virimi Vakatawa (France) — £780,000
Last year, the New Zealand-born Les Bleus’ centre signed a huge contract with Racing 92, according to reports in France.
English club Gloucester were said to be looking at luring him to Kingsholm but were left disappointed when he decided to stay put in Paris.
- Beauden Barrett (New Zealand) — £780,000
In 2019, Barrett signed a four-year deal with the New Zealand Rugby Union, which the New Zealand Herald claims netted him £540,000 per year.
However, on his year out in Japan with Suntory Sungoliath last year, the Daily Mail reports Barrett earned £780,000.
- Maro Itoje (England) — £750,000+
When Itoje was rumoured to be interested in joining Racing 92 last year, club president Jacky Lorenzetti let slip that the lock wanted £1million for the deal to go through.
Exact figures on Itoje’s current salary at Saracens vary but it is widely reported that he is bringing home in excess of £750,000.
- Michael Hooper (Australia) — £750,000
The Wallabies skipper penned a new contract with Rugby Australia in 2018, which netted him £3.2million over five years.
However, last season he took a sabbatical in Japan and is reported to have been earning £750,000 with Japanese Toyota Verblitz.
- Owen Farrell (England) — £750,000
The England skipper is heading into the final year of his contract at Saracens and is reported to be earning a substantial amount of money on his current deal.
Last year, it was revealed he had deferred 90% of his salary to help the club navigate the financial implications amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Steven Luatua (New Zealand) — £650,000
The former All Black gave up his international career to join Bristol Bears and became an integral part of the club’s journey.
There was some confusion over his contractual situation this summer, however Bristol Live report that he is locked in until the conclusion of the 2022/23 season.
Dan Biggar (Wales) -— £600,000
The only Welshman on this list, Biggar’s reported salary far exceeds what he could bring home if he was playing his club rugby in Wales due to the banding system in place here.
However, because he is not captured by the 60-cap rule, he is able to earn good money playing for Northampton Saints without giving up his Wales career. — Wales Online