How Much Do Dragons Rugby Players Earn? (2024)

This article looks at the salaries of Dragons rugby players.

It’s true that individual salaries are private contracts and the details are not disclosed by the club or the WRU (Welsh Rugby Union).

However, the WRU recently agreed on a restructuring of wages with the regions. Plenty of details came out from this process.

How Do Dragons Rugby Players Get Paid?

Caerphilly Castle

First, let’s take a look at how the players are paid. It’s not just through club wages.

Their entire salary can be made up of several income streams:

  • Monthly wage from the franchise
  • Image licensing and sponsorship deals
  • Playing for Wales (test match fees and win bonuses)
  • Touring with the British & Irish Lions (every four years)

Image licensing and sponsorship deals

Sponsorships and image deals can be worth very different amounts across players.

Image licensing can be paid by third parties to use player photos in their advertising. This varies from huge brands (e.g. sports and retail)  to local firms.

I won’t go into detail on these deals because the amounts vary so widely.

Who Pays The Dragons Players?

In the latest salary scheme in Wales, the Union pays 80% of the salary of the top 38 players who play for the four regional clubs.

The Dragons club pays 20% for players who fall into this top category. Then they are on the hook for every other player in the squad.

So, who are the region’s players in the elite 38?

Well, the WRU doesn’t publish the list. But it’s not too difficult to work out the most likely.

Typical elite profile

These will be players who were regular picks in the 2020/2021/2022 international squads.

But the list will also include a few players whose international days are waning but will be called up in an injury crisis.

And the WRU may want to reward some up-and-coming players on the edge of international call-up but in danger of being poached by England.

Dragons in the 38

Here are the Dragons I expect to be paid primarily from the WRU. They will also be the top earners at the club. We’ll get into salaries a little later.

  • Leon Brown
  • Elliott Dee
  • Ross Moriarty
  • Aaron Wainwright

Taine Basham and Ben Carter will surely move into this category as they pick up more caps.

How Have Covid Restrictions Impacted Salaries?

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

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

The WRU negotiated pay cuts with the regions in 2021. Players in the senior squad took a 25% cut in earnings. Academy players were exempt from the cut.

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

Dragons Salary Ranges

The WRU has laid out seven bands of salaries that must be adhered to by every Welsh franchise in the United Rugby Championship.

Seven? Yes, the principality likes to make things complicated!

We have a full explanation of the wage structure elsewhere. Check out our overview of Welsh rugby salaries. This gives a detailed description of what the bands mean.

The two lowest bands are for academy players and young players on their first professional contract. Academy players earn about £15-20K. The first contract basically doubles their wages.

Here are the bands for the more experienced players.

Salary BandSalary RangeTypical Dragons Players
B&I Lions250K – 450KRoss Moriarty *
Seasoned Internationals180K – 300KLeon Brown, Elliott Dee, Aaron Wainwright
Early Internationals110K – 180KTaine Basham, Ben Carter
Marquee Players  Up to 160KTavis Knoyle
Established Players 40K – 110KLloyd Fairbrother

Here is a somewhat simplified summary:

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Lions premium

Dragons seldom have a lot of Lions on their books. In fact, only Ross Moriarty could be in this category.

I’ve put an asterisk against his name because he toured in 2017 but wasn’t selected in 2021. So, does this mean he doesn’t get the top tier?

Well, the initial contracts in this new payment structure were negotiated before the Lions tour was selected. So, he and his agent had a stronger hand to play.

Who Are The Highest Earners Below The Top Tier

man in a bath throwing money in the air

The Dragons have a handful of seasoned internationals who won’t make the Lions levels of payment but are on good pay.

Taine Basham and Ben Carter are in the early stages of their international career and will see their wages rising toward the £200K mark and beyond.

Tavis Knoyle is the kind of highly experienced player that is no longer in international favor but is still of great value to his club.

Lloyd Fairbrother is English so he won’t be getting special top-ups from the WRU. But he’s a regular starter and a stalwart for the region.

He may be a marquee player – and if not, then he’s on the high end of the established player range.

How Much Do Dragons Players Get For Playing For Wales?

Match fees are about £5,500 with extra bonuses for image rights.

Wales has won several Six Nations championships in recent years. That brings a tidy win bonus per player of over £17K for the tournament success.

The British And Irish Lions Top Up

The tour that comes around every four years is a good bump to a player’s salary that year.

The 2021 tour paid about €90K to the squad members. However, there weren’t any Dragons players selected for this squad.

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What About Other Welsh Clubs?

Check out these articles to see how the Dragons compare to other Welsh clubs.

What About Other Countries?

Welsh fans often wonder how much players earn in neighboring countries. Here you go:

These overviews will also give you links to detailed articles about individual clubs and provinces.