Soccer v Rugby - What Paul O'Connell will earn in a year, €56m Ronaldo makes in just a week
It takes Leo Messi just two and a half days to earn Jonathan Sexton's annual salary.
Published 23/07/2015 | 16:47
While the enormous financial clout of French club rugby continues to attract the finest rugby players from right around the globe, the highest earners still fall a long way short of their football counterparts.
The Top 14 has amassed the cream of the crop in recent years, including Ireland captain Paul O'Connell, with star-studded Toulon set for their third successive defence of their European crown.
Owners such as Mourad Boudjellal at Toulon and Jacky Lorenzetti at Racing Metro are dramatically changing the rugby landscape with offers of contracts that other clubs, including Irish provinces, simply cannot afford to match.
Simon Zebo, who has been tentatively linked with a move to France, admitted that the lucrative offers are making everyone sit up and take notice.
"It's catching up with football day by day," he said. "These players earning massive contracts in France, getting €30, €40, €50,000 a month. That's soccer money," Zebo says. "It's definitely going that way. There is more and more money coming into the game. It's great."
However thanks to figures from The Daily Telegraph, a quick comparison of the top five earners in both sports shows the massive gulf in earning power.
Barcelona star Lionel Messi earns a a cool €68m a year for his exploits on the pitch, followed by his Real Madrid rival Cristiano Ronaldo on a contract worth €56m.
By comparison, rugby's top earners are a long way off those staggering numbers.
Racing Metro will make Dan Carter the highest paid player in rugby after the World Cup, where the Kiwi will earn €2m at Racing Metro. The out-half has been signed by the Parisian club to replace Johnny Sexton,who is returning home to Leinster. Australian Matt Giteau is second on the rich-list, tied to a deal from Toulon worth €1.3m.
Next in line is Irish skipper O'Connell, who will be reportedly paid up to €955,000 by his new club depending on performance clauses related to the World Cup.
To put the Limerick man's contract into perspective, he would just fall short of earning in a year what Ronaldo earns in a week in Spain.
Leigh Halfpenny and Sam Burgess complete the top five, with Sexton's contract at Racing placing him in sixth position.
According to the figures quoted, it takes Messi just two and a half days to earn Sexton's annual salary in France.
Below are the figures of the top five in both sports.
Rugby Top Five
1) Dan Carter (Racing Metro) €2m
2) Matt Giteau (Toulon) €1.3m
3) Paul O'Connell (Toulon) €955,000
4) Leigh Halfpenny (Toulon) €850,000
5) Sam Burgess (Bath) €705,000
Football Top Five
1) Lionel Messi (Barcelona) €68m
2) Ronaldo (Real Madrid) €56m
3) Neymar (Barcelona) €38m
4) Thiago Silva (Paris Saint-Germain) €28.7m
5) Gareth Bale (Real Madrid) €24m
* Figures based on Daily Telegraph rich lists