There are some eye-watering high salaries reported for star Wallabies, but sevens rugby contracts don’t come anywhere near those numbers.
This article looks at the salaries of the men and women’s professional sevens teams in Australia.
It’s true that individual salaries are private contracts. However, when Rugby Australia agreed to parity between men and women in sevens, several details were revealed publicly.
How Do Professional Sevens Players Get Paid In Australia?
Before we look at the numbers, we should break down how professional sevens rugby players get paid in Australia.
A player’s entire salary can be made up of several income streams:
- Base contract from Rugby Australia
- Appearance fees for tournaments (about 14 per year)
- Win bonuses for World Series tournaments
- Extra funding from the Australian Sports Commission (usually in Olympics years)
- Private endorsements and sponsorships
Each player’s base contract with Rugby Australia falls within one of three broad ranges that are based on experience and seniority.
Appearance fees and win bonuses
Sevens tournaments are usually two-day events held at specific weekends during the annual calendar. A small number of tournaments are three-day events.
Players are paid for appearing at each international tournament through that year. That could include:
- Ten tournaments that are part of the World Series
- Single event: Commonwealth Games
- Single event: Rugby World Cup Sevens
- Single event: Olympics (every four years)
- Occasional invitational tournaments
Players aren’t paid the appearance bonus if they are not selected to travel due to injury or because their form has not warranted selection.
In addition to payments for selection in the squad, the team is also paid a bonus for winning each World Series tournament.
Funding from the Australian Sports Commission (ASC)
In the next section, you’ll learn that the base contract from Rugby Australia isn’t very high. Yet players may have families to support and/or need to live and train in high-cost cities.
Some players will also hold part-time jobs to support themselves and their families.
The ASC provides top-up funding to players in Olympic squads to ensure that they are in peak condition for the four-year tournament.
Private endorsements and sponsorship
We’re not talking here about the kind of endorsements that Michael Hooper or even a retired Will Genia can get!
Sevens players don’t have that kind of profile (although the women’s success mean that some have become stars).
However, local firms and brands can provide sponsorship to players who hail from where those companies are based. This may amount to a few thousand dollars per year.
In 2018, Rugby Australia made a very progressive move in providing a pregnancy policy for female players.
This provides financial support for women who take time off to have children.
How Much Do Australia Sevens Rugby Players Earn?
Players on Australian sevens rugby teams have contracts from Rugby Australia that start from A$44K per year for first contracts.
Experienced players have contracts ranging from A$70-A$105K.
Players earn about A$2K in tournament fees, which can total to A$24K per year. World Series wins are about A$4K.
What about tournament players without Rugby Australia contracts?
When college stars are plucked from a university team to join an international squad, they may play a few World Series tournaments before being awarded a full sevens contract.
How are the non-contracted players compensated if they are drafted in for training and tournaments?
This is dealt with through expenses.
Sevens player expenses
International sevens tournaments are played at a single venue on specific weekends.
All Australian players get their travel, meals, and accommodation paid while attending tournaments.
Travel and meals are also provided to training camps and sessions that precede tournaments.
Non-contracted players receive the same tournament bonuses as the contracted players.
Wage Parity In Australian Sevens Rugby
Before 2018, the Australian sevens womens team were paid less than the mens team. This was no different to most other Rugby Unions in the world.
Australian male players earned about A$20K more than their female counterparts.
However, the womens teams have had more success in recent years. There was growing disquiet amongst players and fans as the ladies won World Series finals but earned less for this success.
2018 saw a groundbreaking deal between Rugby Australia and the Players Association.
The deal meant that entry-level players are given the same contract and that the salary ranges for more experienced players are also similar.
There were similar discussions in the USA soccer world where the American women’s team are more successful than the men’s team.
How Does This Compare To Fifteens?
Fifteens players who start their first contract for a professional franchise are on a similar salary to the entry-level contracts for Australian sevens players.
However, experienced Super Rugby players will start earning significantly more than sevens players when they negotiate their second or third contract with a franchise.
And the top stars in fifteens rugby can earn up to ten times a top earner in sevens.
To get the juicy details, check out our article on how much professional fifteens players earn in Australia.