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American Rugby Player Salaries

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Rugby is a sport of British descent, like soccer, and has a unique and diverse fan base. Those who love the sport and are good at it can make a decent living playing rugby, but location has a lot to do with getting paid well. Unfortunately for rugby players living in the U.S., salaries here are virtually nonexistent, and any compensation that does exist is much lower than the salaries made by rugby players in many other parts of the world.

Rugby and College

In America, most high-school students have a choice to play popular sports such as tennis, basketball, baseball, swimming and football, but rugby isn’t generally a school-sponsored sport, therefore kids often don’t get introduced to it until college. Many large colleges around the country have rugby teams, and some, like the University of California, take rugby very seriously. These are the types of colleges that young Americans should attend if they want to pursue the sport professionally and have the opportunity to get paid for it.

American Interest in Rugby

Rugby is one of the most well-known sports in the world. In fact, it ranks right below soccer in global popularity. While it is wildly popular in other parts of the world, it isn’t nearly as popular in America. Considering the fact that rugby is the foundation of American football, the sport’s lack of popularity is intriguing. Unfortunately, the “salaries” received by American rugby players typically reflect this lack of interest. To put it bluntly, American rugby players don’t make much of a salary.

Cost to Play Rugby in America

Due to the lack of interest by most Americans, playing rugby outside of college can be difficult for serious players. For example, those selected to play on the U.S. national rugby team are some of the best rugby players in the country, but even they have to maintain other jobs while playing for the team. All that American rugby players can expect to be paid on the professional level is a minimal per diem that may cover their away expenses. Therefore, they will have to find additional sources of income to cover their daily living expenses, health insurance and build their retirement funds.

International Rugby Salaries

The good news is that rugby is a very popular sport in countries other than the United States. Although American rugby players aren’t paid salaries to play (or train), many countries in Europe and other parts of the world pay salaries that can range from $65,000 per year to over $200,000 per year, due to the large amount of international interest in the sport. Therefore, if you want to pursue a paid career playing rugby, you will probably need to move outside of the United States to do so.


Kirsten Silven-Hoell began working as a freelance writer and editor in 2004 after spending six years in the financial services industry. She worked as editor-in-chief at "Kentucky Homes & Gardens" magazine for more than three years before becoming editor-in-chief and art director at "Club Solutions Magazine." Silven-Hoell holds a Bachelor of Arts in interdisciplinary humanities from Spalding University and graduated summa cum laude.