Rugby is a popular sport in France, with many talented players competing at both domestic and international levels. As with any professional sport, the salaries of rugby players can vary greatly depending on their skill level, experience, and market value. In this blog, we’ll take a look at the top 10 highest-paid French rugby players and explore why rugby players in France can earn such high salaries. We’ll also compare French rugby player salaries with those of French football players to see how they stack up.
How Much Do French Rugby Players Earn?
The salaries of French rugby players can vary greatly depending on a variety of factors, including their skill level, experience, market value, and position on the team. As of 2021, the average salary for a French rugby player in the Top 14, the top-tier league in France, was approximately €235,000 per year. This is a significant increase from just a few years ago, as the average salary in 2017 was around €202,000.
However, it’s worth noting that the salaries of top-tier players in France can be much higher than the average. Some of the highest-paid players can earn salaries in the millions of euros per year. For example, Virimi Vakatawa, who is currently the highest-paid French rugby player, earns €1.2 million per year. Gael Fickou, who is second on the list, earns €900,000 per year, and Charles Ollivon, the captain of the French national team, earns €850,000 per year.
On the other end of the spectrum, the salaries of lower-tier players can be much lower than the average. The minimum salary for a professional rugby player in France is around €25,000 per year. This means that some players who are just starting out or playing for smaller clubs may earn salaries that are significantly lower than the average.
It’s also worth noting that the salaries of French rugby players can vary depending on their position on the team. In general, backs (such as centers, wings, and fullbacks) tend to earn higher salaries than forwards (such as props, locks, and flankers). This is because backs typically score more tries and are more marketable to sponsors, which can drive up their value to teams.
Top 10 Highest-Paid French Rugby Players
- Virimi Vakatawa – €1.2 million per year
- Gael Fickou – €900,000 per year
- Charles Ollivon – €850,000 per year
- Teddy Thomas – €750,000 per year
- Antoine Dupont – €700,000 per year
- Guilhem Guirado – €650,000 per year
- Camille Chat – €600,000 per year
- Yoann Huget – €550,000 per year
- Baptiste Serin – €500,000 per year
- Damian Penaud – €500,000 per year
Why Do French Rugby Players Earn So Much?
One of the primary reasons why rugby players in France can earn such high salaries is the structure of the professional rugby system in the country. Unlike many other rugby-playing nations, France has a centralized system where the French Rugby Federation (FFR) controls the top-tier league, the Top 14, and the second-tier league, Pro D2. This means that the FFR has a lot of control over the salaries that players earn, as well as other aspects of their contracts.
In addition, French rugby clubs have access to a significant amount of funding. Many of the top clubs are owned by wealthy individuals or corporations who are willing to invest heavily in their teams. This means that they can pay high salaries to attract and retain top talent. The French government also provides funding to support the sport, which can further boost club budgets.
Finally, the popularity of rugby in France also plays a role in driving up player salaries. Rugby is a major sport in the country, with a passionate fan base that is willing to pay for tickets, merchandise, and other items related to the sport. This creates a lucrative market for the top players, who can leverage their popularity to negotiate high salaries and endorsement deals.
Comparison with French Football Players’ Salaries
While rugby players in France can earn impressive salaries, they still lag behind their football counterparts. According to a 2020 report by L’Equipe, the average salary of a football player in Ligue 1, the top-tier football league in France, was €92,202 per month (or €1.1 million per year). This is significantly higher than the top salary on our list of French rugby players.
However, it’s worth noting that the highest-paid football players in France earn much more than the highest-paid rugby players. For example, according to Forbes, Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar earned $95.5 million in 2020, making him the fifth-highest-paid athlete in the world. In contrast, the highest-paid rugby player in France, Virimi Vakatawa, earned €1.2 million in 2021.
Rugby is a lucrative profession in France, with the top players earning impressive salaries. The centralized structure of the professional rugby system, the significant funding available to French rugby clubs, and the popularity of rugby in France all contribute to the high salaries that players can earn. While rugby players in France may not earn as much as their football counterparts on average, the highest-paid rugby players can still earn significant amounts of money.
It’s also worth noting that the salaries of French rugby players may continue to increase in the coming years. Rugby is a growing sport globally, and the popularity of the sport in France is only likely to increase. This could lead to more funding being made available to clubs, which could, in turn, result in higher salaries for players.
In conclusion, French rugby players can earn impressive salaries thanks to a combination of factors, including the centralized structure of the professional rugby system, the significant funding available to clubs, and the popularity of rugby in France. While rugby players may not earn as much as football players on average, the highest-paid rugby players in France can still earn significant amounts of money. As rugby continues to grow in popularity, it will be interesting to see how player salaries develop in the coming years.