English players deserve to make £1m a year, says players’ union boss Damian Hopley
An England international will earn up to £300,000 each year in just match fees
An elite player could now soon earn up to seven figures per year
An elite English player deserves to make £1m a year, says players’ union boss Damian Hopley.
The new pay deal with the Rugby Football Union (RFU) means an England international will earn up to £300,000 each year in match fees alone.
Along with their club salaries, bonuses and commercial income, an elite player could soon top seven figures per year.
“The market place dictates what they deserve,” said Rugby Players’ Association chief executive Hopley.
“If players are successful and conduct themselves in a way that is becoming to that role model status, then I think they do deserve it.”
The latest RFU accounts showed record profits following the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
“The players generate huge amounts of money for the game,” Hopley added. “In the context of the revenues being generated through English rugby, it’s a very reasonable deal.
“We wanted to ensure that the players felt they were participating in the commercial upside of the RFU – and despite a disappointing World Cup for everyone, we have seen a fantastic year around English rugby revenues.
“England players in 2003 won £70,000 each for winning the World Cup, while players in this Old Mutual Wealth Series will pick up more than that for playing in four games for England.”
Mark Lambert, the vice-chairman of the RPA, denies that the new deal will lead to a disconnect between elite England players and the rest.
“The way you earn respect as a rugby player is the way you carry yourself, the way you behave, and the example you set for other people,” the Harlequins prop told BBC Sport.
“All the [Harlequins] guys that have come through the system and gone on to represent England internationally, they are model professionals and deserve what they have achieved in the game.
“We would all like to be earning that money, but it’s something that’s directly linked to the revenues of the RFU,” added Lambert, who has made more than 200 top-flight appearances for Quins.