Saturday 24 February 2018

Revealed: A breakdown of the £2.6million jackpot the Lions squad will share for series win

Warren Gatland, second from left, has named three of his coaches
Warren Gatland, second from left, has named three of his coaches

Gavin Mairs

The British & Irish Lions squad will share a record jackpot of more than £2.6 million if Warren Gatland’s side record a first series victory over world champions New Zealand since 1971.

Of that figure, each player will receive a bonus of £10,000 each if the Lions win two of the three Tests, on top of a tour fee of £70,000 for every player who remains in the squad for the full tour.

It is understood that details of the agreed tour payments, including the tour win bonus, were included in commercial contracts that were sent out to over 150 players last week ahead of the squad announcement next Wednesday.

With Warren Gatland, the Lions head coach, set to announcement a squad of 37 players, the combined tour fee will be £2,590,000, with another £370,000 to be paid out if the tourists record a historic series victory over the All Blacks, taking the overall total to £2,960,000.

While the tour fee represents a 40 per cent rise from the £50,000 the players received during the 2013 tour of Australia, the win bonus remains roughly in line with what Sam Warburton’s side received for defeating the Wallabies 2-1 in the Test series.

If the tour fee represents a major increase from four years ago, the average of £7,000 per match for the 10-game tour is less than a third of what the current England players receive for playing a Test match, which is worth £22,000 per game, including player appearances.

Still, the soaring commercial value of the Lions is not in doubt. In the 2009 tour of the Lions, the players’ tour fee was £38,000 and just £22,000 for the last tour of New Zealand in 2005, a lowly figure given the humiliation Brian O’Driscoll’s side had to endure during the 3-0 drubbing handed out by Dan Carter & Co.

It is understood that the players who have received a contract – they arrived both as an email attachment and a hard copy by post last week - must sign it and return it to the Lions before the squad announcement in order to guarantee their consideration for selection. A significant number have yet to do so.

The contract includes insurance details and asks for players to declare any commercial commitments as once they officially go into camp on May 14 (apart from those involved in end-of-season finals) they will only be able to undertake appearances with official Lions sponsors.

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