While rugby may not be well known in the United States, it is one of the most popular sports in countries such as England, Australia, France, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, and Tonga. It is also the national sport of countries such as Wales, Fiji, Madagascar, and Samoa, to name a few. Originally created as a variant on English football, rugby (or ‘rugby football’) has existed since the 1890s. With its popularity in Europe and various other countries, it’s no surprise that championships such as the Top 14 in France and the Currie Cup in South Africa draw thousands of spectators every year. While its players may not be paid the tens of millions of dollars NFL players make in the United States, the top players can still draw some lucrative paychecks. Here are 10 of the top-paid rugby players from around the world.
10. Matt Giteau – Toulon – €40,000 (~$54,600 USD) per month
Currently playing for Toulon, Matt Giteau is an Australian rugby player who debuted for the ACT Brumbies back in 2001. He currently plays inside center, fly back, and half back for Toulon. Over his career, Giteau was nominated for the 2004 International Rugby Association Player of the Year Award, gained 92 Test Caps for Australia, and 61 Super Rugby Caps.
9. Jamie Roberts – Racing Metro – €40,000 (~$54,600 USD) per month
While he has also played for Toulon, Jamie Roberts signed with Racing Metro in July 2013. His favorite position is center; however, he has also been used at the wing and fullback positions. In 2012, Roberts was on the Wales squad that won the Six Nations’ Championship.
8. Bakkies Botha – Toulon – €41,000 (~$55,900 USD) per month
Originally hailing from South Africa, Bakkies Botha currently plays for Toulon. He is one of the most decorated and highest-paid players in rugby, with multiple Cups and championship wins under his belt. His favored position when playing rugby is Lock.
7. Carl Hayman – Toulon – €41,000 (~$55,900 USD) per month
Currently playing for Toulon, New Zealand-born Carl Hayman plays as tighthead prop. He has been regarded as the best at that position in the rugby world for the past several years. Before signing with Toulon, Hayman played for the Newcastle Falcons.
6. Dimitri Szarzewski – Racing Metro – €41,000 (~$55,900 USD) per month
Dimitri Szarzewski is a French Rugby player whose position is hooker. He made his rugby debut in 2002 with AS Beziers Herault, and made his international debut for France in 2004. He is the second-highest paid player in the Racing Metro club.
5. Thierry Dusautoir – Toulouse – €43,000 (~$58,700 USD) per month
Thierry Dusautoir is not only a renowned rugby player for Toulouse, he is also a graduate chemical engineer. He practiced Judo for many years before switching to Rugby at age 16, is a strong ball carrier, and is currently Toulouse’s highest paid player.
4. Morgan Parra – Clermont Auvergne – €46,000 (~$62,800 USD) per month
Having made his debut for France in 2008 at age 19, Morgan Parra has played both scrum half and fly half throughout his career, and is a reliable kicker for both the league club and his Nationals appearances. His nickname in France is the petit général. Currently, he is Clermont’s highest-paid player.
3. Bryan Habana – Toulon – €50,000 (~$68,200 USD) per month
A wing position player from South Africa, Bryan Habana plays for Toulon and for the 2007 Rugby World Cup champion Springboks. He made his international debut at the 2003-2004 World Sevens Series representing South Africa, and was a star on the Springboks’ World Cup winning team.
2. Jonathan Sexton – Racing Metro – €52,000 (~$71,000 USD) per month
Jonathan Sexton is currently signed to Racing Metro, and has been since midway through the 2012-2013 season. He plays mainly fly-half, but has been at several positions along the back line. The Irish rugby player is well known for his defensive plays and good offensive passes, and is described as a ‘class act with hardly any weaknesses.
1. Jonny Wilkinson – Toulon – €56,000 (~$76,400 USD) per month
Jonny Wilkinson currently plays for Toulon, and is formerly a national team member for England. He was a key player in England’s 2003 World Cup win. While he was sidelined with several injuries, Wilkinson came back for the 2007 Rugby World Cup final, and has helped England become a four time winner of the Six Nations Championship. He has been retired from international matches since 2011.