In the UK, there are two forms of rugby: union and league. Rugby union is the most popular, has the larger turnover and also the higher wages for players. The top league in each discipline is professional and a league-imposed salary cap controls the pay for players.
Union average salary
The average salary for a professional player in the Rugby union premiership, as of 2013, is £81,000 per year. Player salaries vary according to experience, talent and the restrictions of the league salary cap. The average pay has risen steadily over recent years, from £50,000 per year in the 2006-7 season.
Union salary cap
The Rugby union premiership operates a salary cap system that limits the amount of money that a club can pay as player wages each season. This is to promote a self-sustainable model for the future. It was first introduced in 1999 and has been revised several times since. For the 2012-13 season, the cap was £4.26 million. This can rise to a maximum of £4.5 million if the club gets credits for using Academy players that they have brought through their ranks. Each club can also nominate one player to be excluded from the cap. There are no limits to the salary this player receives.
Players who also play for the England union team can augment their club wages. For example, at the 2011 World Cup, England players received £8,545 each for every match they played.
League average salary
The average pay of a player in the rugby Super League is approximately £60,000 per year. Salary levels vary dependent on experience and service to the club, as well as the restrictions of the league's salary cap.
League salary cap
As of the 2012-13 season, the salary cap within the rugby league's Super League, is £1.6 million. This is the total wage bill allowed for the top 25 players at the club for the year. Outside the top 25, there is a limit of £50,000 for those who have made at least one appearance during the season. There is no limit on players who do not make a senior appearance for the club.
Rugby league players who represent the British Lions international team can earn extra pay. For example, players selected for the 10-game tour of Australia in May 2013 will each receive a contract for £45,000. With win bonuses, this could rise to £60,000 per player for the tour.