Rugby Union has established itself as one of the world’s leading sports in terms of popularity and participation – naturally, the sport and its most prominent clubs have also grown in wealth.
Rapidly increasing viewership has led to huge sums of money being paid for television broadcasting rights. This money has gone into the pockets of Europe’s leading clubs and is subsequently being spent on the ever-growing salaries of the world’s top players.
So, we’ve compiled a list of the highest paid rugby players in 2017 – enjoy! (2018 has seen some big changes so we have updated this on a separate page – Highest paid rugby players in 2018
10. Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers) – £460,000
Since signing a new three-year deal with one of England’s finest clubs, Tuilagi has struggled with injuries and is yet to live up to the billing his salary suggests.
Nonetheless, on his day he is one of the world’s best and it’s no surprise he is one of the highest paid rugby players.
9. Bryan Habana (Toulon) – £467,000
Come 2013, he left Super Rugby’s Stormers for France’s Top 14 side, Toulon. Since penning a four-year deal, Habana has justified his hefty salary with 15 tries in 43 appearances.
8. Charles Piutau (Ulster) – £500,000
He cut his All Black career short in 2015 to head to top tier England club Wasps where he scored eight tries in 23 appearances. Piutau was lured to Ulster in 2016 with a club record fee on a two-year deal, making him one of the highest paid rugby players in the world.
Piutau was lured to Ulster in 2016 with a club record fee on a two-year deal, making him the second-highest earner in Ireland and one of the highest paid rugby players in the world.
7. Johnny Sexton (Leinster) – £500,000
6. Ma’a Nonu (Toulon) – £600,000
Heading to France after the 2015 Rugby World Cup, Ma’a Nonu has slotted in the backline alongside some of the game’s best players, Matt Giteau and Bryan Habana.
Nonu originally signed a two-year-deal but is set to extend that until 2018.
5. Leigh Halfpenny (Toulon) – £600,000
Halfpenny has established himself as the Welsh and Lions full back, and one of Rugby Union’s best talents, therefore justifying his lucrative salary.
4. Aaron Cruden (Montpellier) – £680,000
Cruden’s three-year-deal with Montpellier in the south of France was made public in January 2017 and saw the 28-year-old become the fourth highest paid rugby player in the world.
3. Matt Giteau (Toulon) – £900,000)
Moving to Toulon in 2011 after the World Cup, Giteau’s contract expired in June and is expected to make the move to Japan.
2. Dan Carter (Racing 92) – £1,400,000
All Blacks golden boy Dan Carter signed a three-year-deal to play with Paris club Racing Metro after the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
1. Ayumu Goromaru (Toulon) – £1,400,000 + add ons
Having a stunning 2015 Rugby World Cup campaign at full back for Japan, Goromaru signed on to play with the Queensland Reds in Super Rugby before being involved in a player swap with Toulon’s Quade Cooper.
The deal is thought to be for one season only.
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