Irish players will earn significantly less money than their English counterparts for Grand Slam success
England will share a jackpot of more than £3.5 million (€4.1m) if they win a second successive Grand Slam during this year’s RBS Six Nations Championship, The Daily Telegraph can reveal.
Of that figure, £1 million is a special squad bonus for emerging victorious, the rest made up of match and training fees and image rights. The deal was concluded this week following third-party negotiations with the Premiership clubs and it will vastly strengthen England’s position as the highest-paid squad in world rugby.
The squad bonus alone for winning the Grand Slam has soared by 66 per cent from the £600,000 (€705,000) Eddie Jones’s side received last season for completing their first championship clean sweep since 2003. It is not just the players who will be in the money. The Rugby Football Union stands to net £20 million from a top-two England finish.
That figure dwarfs the amount that will be paid to England’s Celtic rivals. It is understood that the Ireland squad, whose salaries are paid directly by the Irish Rugby Football Union, will not receive match fees or match-win bonuses but have a bonus structure based on their final position in the Six Nations table.
Should Ireland win the Grand Slam, it is believed that each player would receive £63,000 (€74,000) as a one-off payment for the entire tournament, around £90,000 (€106,000) less than their English counterparts.
If England were to win the Six Nations but without completing the Grand Slam, it is understood that the players would share a bonus pot of around £610,000 (€717,00), up from £368,000 l(€433,000) ast season. The new bonus structure is on top of the new player payments deal, struck between the RFU and the Rugby Players’ Association, which was revealed in November.
Excluding bonuses, the deal means the combined total of match fees, image rights and training fees rises from £17,000 to £22,000 per game – a rise of over 30 per cent.
Any Grand Slam bonus will be shared on a pro-rata basis but any member of the 23-player match-day squad for each of England’s five games will receive a bonus of more than £43,000 (€50,000) if they repeat last season’s triumph – up from £26,000 (€30,00) last season.
That would take the total earnings for each player who plays in every game to £153,000 (€180,00), up from £110,000 (€130,000) last year, a total payout of £3,530,000 (€4,152,000).
It is understood that the massive rise in the squad bonus for winning the Six Nations or Grand Slam has been accommodated by the decision, agreed with the players, to end the previous custom of awarding a squad bonus for a clean sweep of victories in the autumn Test series.
Under the previous pay deal, England would receive a squad bonus of more than £300,000 for winning all four Tests of an autumn campaign, but Jones’s squad received only match fees, image rights and training fees for their clean sweep against South Africa, Fiji, Argentina and Australia.
Even without win bonuses, an England player who is a member of every match-day 23 for this season’s 11 Test matches, including the end-of-season tour to Argentina in June, is expected to earn a minimum of £242,000 (€285,000), up from £187,000 (€220,000) under the terms of the deal for last season.
Last season, the squad earned a bonus of £230,000 (€270,000) after defeating Australia in the third Test in June to complete a 3-0 series victory. The RFU also paid each player in the 23-man squad a bonus of £10,170 to move up from third to second place in the world rankings at the end of the season.
The soaring payments are in part due to the increasing commercial success of the Six Nations tournament, which is expected to turn over £300 million this year, but also reflects the RFU’s financial strength on the back of hosting the World Cup in 2015. The RFU’s profits rocketed to over £100 million last year.