Scotland and Racing 92 stand-off Finn Russell among world rugby’s best-paid players
Finn Russell’s move to French Top 14 side Racing 92 has catapulted the Scotland international into world rugby’s top 20 best-paid players.
New statistics reveal the former Glasgow Warriors man now earns a yearly salary of £535,000 - more than the likes of New Zealand trio Sonny Bill Williams, Beauden Barrett and Kieran Read.
The 38-cap Scotland stand-off is nearly £100,000 better off per year than England’s Owen Farrell.
Saracens lock Maro Itoje, Italy captain Sergio Parisse and Leicester centre Manu Tuilagi also earn less than Russell on a yearly basis.
But the 26-year-old is still some way off the big four.
Australia and Waratahs centre / wing Israel Folau tops the list with a yearly salary of £1.4 million while Russell’s predecessor at Racing, Dan Carter - rumoured to be on £1.4 million a year in France - still earns a £1.1 million a year with Japanese side Kobe Steelers despite having to take a pay cut when he moved to the Top League.
In third place is Matt Giteau. The 36-year-old former Australia utility back made more than 100 appearances for the Wallabies in a 14-year international career, and now plies his trade in Japan with Suntory Sungoliath. Like Carter, Giteau is also on a reputed £1.1 million a year.
Completing the top four is another All-Black in Charles Piutau. The full-back / wing is reported to have become British rugby’s first million-pound player following his big-money move from Guinness PRO14 side Ulster to English Premiership side Bristol Bears.
The rest of the top 10 comprises Aaron Cruden (£680,000), who reportedly turned down more money from the Bears to join Montpellier; Piutau’s Bristol colleague Steven Luatua (£650,000); Northampton Saints’ Welsh fly-half Dan Biggar (£600,000); 104-cap All-Black centre Ma’a Nonu (£600,000); Argentine play-maker Nicolas Sanchez (£581,000) and Falau’s club and international team-mate Michael Hooper (£572,000).
Ahead of Russell in the 11-13 slots are Morgan Parra of Clermont Auvergne (£570,000); Toulon’s former Wales scrum-half Rhys Webb (£550,000) and Leinster’s Johnny Sexton (£536,000).
Russell has effectively doubled his pay-packet since swapping Scotstoun for the French capital, with the Scottish Rugby Union’s upper wage limit restricting the amounts clubs can pay players.
The likes of Glasgow duo Stuart Hogg - who is set to earn more money when the full-back completes a move to Exeter Chiefs during the close-season - and lock Jonny Gray, are understood to be earning less than £400,000 a year.
According to Wales Online, the Welsh Rugby Union also has a threshold in place for “players on national dual contracts” - such as Jonathan Davies, Leigh Halfpenny, Alun Wyn Jones and George North - thought to be earning between £350,000 and £375,000 a year.
The Irish Rugby Union pays larger salaries to marquee players with Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton earning more than their counterparts in Scotland and Wales.