How Much Do Bristol Bears Players Earn? (2024)

This article looks at the salaries of Bristol Bears rugby players in the English Premiership.

It’s true that individual salaries are private contracts and the details are rarely put into the public domain by the club. However, leaks happen (we’ve gathered them all).

Aside from leaks, several companies associated with player agents regularly publish average salaries across the Premiership. This lets us estimate the wage ranges within a club.

We can also identify the highest earners. Let’s get into it!

How Do Bristol Bears Players Get Paid?

Before we crunch the numbers, let’s review the different ways that players get paid. It’s not just through club wages.

Their entire income come from several sources (but perhaps not all the ones listed below):

  • Monthly club wage
  • Win bonuses from the club
  • Brand deals, endorsements, and sponsorships
  • Image rights
  • International matches (payment by England RFU or other Unions)
  • British & Irish Lions

Bristol Bears pay the monthly salary and bonuses for each player.

Endorsements and brand deals from outside companies are worth very different amounts across players, so I won’t go into these.

This article focuses on wages paid by Bristol Bears and by England.

Image rights and brand advertising

man wearing nike brand

Image rights may be paid by companies for the use of player images in their advertising campaigns.

This varies from huge brands (e.g. sports giants like Nike)  to local businesses. If you live in the town of Bristol, you may see the faces of lesser-known players on local billboards.

Senior players retain specialist agents to negotiate endorsements with third parties.

Young players usually start off with a relative (e.g. their father) acting as their agent.

How Have Covid Restrictions Impacted Salaries?

The 2020/21 Premiership season was shortened due to Covid restrictions. Match attendances were also curtailed.

TV revenue was reduced due to the shorter season. The drop in gate receipts also hit club income.

All the Bristol players agreed to take a 25% reduction in pay. The club then negotiated with the highest-paid players to take further reductions.

This article uses the averages and reported salaries of more normal times. You can mentally reduce the figures in the immediate aftermath of the pandemic.

What Is The Average Salary Of A Bristol Bears Rugby Player?

The average salary for Bristol Bears rugby players is about £120K for senior players.

Young Bristol Bears players in their first year on a full contract earn about £40K. This will double within the next few years.

Academy players earn between £15-25K depending on their academy year.

These are average salaries but the star players are on significantly higher amounts, as I show in the next section.

However, clubs must keep their whole budget underneath the agreed salary cap for the league.

Who Are The Highest Paid Bristol Bears Rugby Players?

While the average salary for players is £120K, the range for middle-ranking players is from £70K to £140K.

The marquee players can earn over £400K. And Bristol Bears broke the bank to make record payments to one player. Read on…

Marquee players

Bristol Bears’ highest-paid player in recent years is fullback Charles Piutau. His contract is reportedly one million pounds per year.

This represented a new record for player contracts in Rugby Union.

Actually, there were two players who reached these high amounts at about the same time. Flyhalf Handre Pollard was reported to be on the same amount at French club Montpellier.

Piutau isn’t the only big-earning player at Bristol, although he earns significantly more than the next top salaries.

Captain Steve Luatua is reportedly on a contract of £620,000 per annum.

Centre Semi Radrada is over the £500K bracket at about £520,000.

Premiership clubs can only nominate two marquee players whose salaries aren’t included in the total that must be kept under a capped amount. I’ll discuss that in the next section.

Other players in the higher salary range

man in a bath throwing money in the air

Given that the salary range for senior players is from £70K to £140K, who else is at the top of this range?

Esportif publishes statistics for which positions earn the most in the Premiership. These are the top six:

  1. Fly half
  2. Locks (either 4 or 5)
  3. Outside centre
  4. Tighthead prop
  5. Fullback
  6. Number eight

The position of flyhalf is the most valued across the Premiership. Scottish flyhalf Callum Sheedy is likely at the upper end of the range near £140K.

USA flyhalf AJ McGinty is a more recent signing for Bristol and I’d expect him to be on a similar or higher salary.

Kyle Sinckler is both an England international and a tighthead prop. His position is highly valued in the Premiership so we can expect him to be at or above the top of the range.

English Premiership Salary Cap

English Premiership clubs are not allowed to exceed an agreed cap on the total salaries for their squad.

Clubs get extra credits for players that they bring through from their academy to a full professional contract.

They also get credits for players who are capped by England.

Bristol Bears Rugby usually has at least one player in the 23-man matchday squad. Kyle Sinckler has been a fixture in the side.

How Much Do Bristol Players Get When Playing For England?

The England squad collectively agreed to a reduction in match fees during the COVID period.

In more usual times, the match fee is about £23K for players who are selected in the 23-man squad for a match.

Players don’t get paid just for being called into camp.

So if you see a promising Bristol Bears Rugby youngster has joined an England training camp, don’t assume that they’re getting an immediate bump in income.

If you want a more detailed review, read our article on how much England rugby players earn when playing for their country. It includes detailed comparisons to salaries in other countries.

What about selection for the British And Irish Lions?

lions badge

The tour that comes around every four years is a good bump to a player’s salary that year. The 2021 tour paid £75K to the squad members.

Kyle Sinckler was a late call-up to the tour to South Africa. He’s the only Bristol player to get this top-up to his income.

If the Lions had won the 2021 series in South Africa, the prop would have received a £10,000 bonus. Unfortunately, he came home without the additional sum!

How Do Bristol Bears Afford High Salaries?

You may be wondering if the gate receipts are enough to cover these types of salaries. The answer is that they’re not.

The club shared in a one-off payment to all Premiership clubs in 2018 when they agreed to sell a minority stakeholding to the investment company CVC.

Bristol Bears RFC is owned by a businessman who has invested funds into the club. You can read more in our article on who owns Bristol Bears.