This article looks at the salaries of Exeter Chiefs rugby players in the English Premiership.
You probably know that individual salaries are private contracts and the details are seldom made public by the club.
However, several companies associated with players publish annual statistics and other details. We can make good estimates on salary ranges within a club while also identifying the highest earners.
How Do Exeter Chiefs Players Get Paid?
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 salary from the club
- Win bonuses
- Brand deals, endorsements, and sponsorships
- Image licensing and rights
- International caps (for England or other countries)
- Going on the British & Irish Lions tours (every four years)
Exeter Chiefs foot the bill for the monthly salary and bonuses.
Brand deals and sponsorships from third parties can be worth very different amounts across players, so I won’t go into these.
This article focuses on wages paid by Exeter Chiefs and by the England RFU.
Image licensing and sponsorships
Image rights may be paid by third parties who want to use player photos in their advertising.
This varies from huge brands (e.g. clothing) to local retail stores. If you live in the town of Exeter, you may see the images of lesser-known players in local advertising.
Experienced players retain professional agents to arrange sponsorships and brand deals with external companies.
Younger players often start off with their father or another relative with business experience.
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.
Exeter Chiefs players agreed to take a twenty-five percent cut across the roster. The club then negotiated with the highest-paid players to take further pay cuts.
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 Exeter Chiefs Rugby Player?
The average salary for Exeter Chiefs rugby players is about £120K for senior players.
Young Exeter Chiefs 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 Exeter Chiefs 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. But who are the marquee players?
Exeter Chiefs’ highest-paid player in recent years is Scotland fullback Stuart Hogg. His Exeter Chiefs contract was reputed to be £550,000 per year.
England centre Henry Slade is reportedly on £450K.
That may surprise you but remember that the very versatile Slade can slot in across the backline – including flyhalf. We look at these factors in more detail in our specific article on Henry Slade’s salary.
Locks are also highly valued in the Premiership. Scotland lock Jonny Gray comes in at about £400,000 per year.
However, a club can only have two marquee players whose salaries are excluded from the salary cap (more on this later).
So, Jonny Gray’s salary is counted in Exeter Chiefs’ total wages within the cap.
Other players in the higher salary range
Given that the salary range for senior players is from £70K to £140K, who is at the top of the range?
Esportif publishes statistics for which positions earn the most in the Premiership. These are the top six:
- Fly half
- Locks (either 4 or 5)
- Outside centre
- Tighthead prop
- Number eight
The position of flyhalf is the most valued across the Premiership. That’s why Slade commands a high salary.
We can also expect that England international Dan Simmons is at the higher end of the range. He usually packs down at number eight for Exeter, which is a valued position (in monetary terms).
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. Exeter Chiefs usually have several players in the 23-man squad for the national team.
How Much Do Chiefs Players Get For 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 Exeter Chiefs 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 the fees that England rugby players earn. It includes detailed comparisons to salaries in other countries.
What about selection for the British And Irish Lions?
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.
Four Chiefs players did well from the South Africa tour. These are the four Chiefs players that got a bump in their annual earnings that year.
- Stuart Hogg (fullback)
- Jonny Hill (lock)
- Sam Simmonds (backrow)
- Luke Cowan-Dickie (hooker)
If the Lions had won the 2021 series in South Africa, the quartet would have received a £10,000 bonus. Unfortunately, they came home without the extras!
How Does The Club 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.
Exeter Chiefs also benefit from investment by a local businessman. You can read more in our article on the ownership of Exeter Chiefs.
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