This article reviews the salaries of Houston SaberCats rugby players in Major League Rugby.
It’s true that salaries are private contracts between the franchise and players. Houston SaberCats don’t publish the details.
However, information gets around the small circles of Texas rugby. We’ve collected and reviewed all the details from credible sources.
How Do Houston SaberCats Players Get Paid?
Before we review the numbers, we’ll look at different ways that players earn their total income for the year.
Monthly club wages may just be part of their earnings. A player’s full income can come from several sources.
Note that some players in the Houston squad are solely compensated with wages. The other options on this list will only apply to a selection of players.
- Monthly club wages
- Assistance with accommodation and rent
- Assistance with part-time employment outside the club
- Part-time coaching
- International match fees (these are not paid by Houston SaberCats)
Younger players often choose to share accommodation arranged through the franchise. Each pays a small contribution for a room in a big comfortable house. This works out well in a relatively high-priced city like San Diego.
Academy players in elite clubs in England and Ireland have similar arrangements. Even senior players may prefer to share with teammates. This often occurs with a small groups of overseas players from the same country.
This won’t be attractive to players with children. But families can also get some level of rent assistance.
Experienced players may be offered part-time coaching roles. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they are involved in coaching their Houston SaberCats teammates.
They may be coaching through the academy program run by the franchise. These players will have gone through the formal coaching courses regulated by World Rugby.
Sam Windsor is an example. If you check out his LinkedIn profile, you’ll see that he lists his role at the SaberCats as “Player and assistant coach”.
Helping with part-time employment
The MLR competition lasts seven months. Franchises encourage lower-paid players to get a second income during the off-season.
Some players on the fringes of the squad (i.e. rarely making the match-day 23) may also take part-time jobs that can fit around their training requirements.
What Do Houston SaberCats Players Get Paid?
If you check out our round-up of MLR salaries, you’ll see that the star players can earn up to $45K.
However, the SaberCats franchise hasn’t targeted high-profile players from overseas.
The club does have a significant number of talented South African players and a smattering of Argentinians. But these players don’t have years of experience at the top level of other competitions e.g. Super Rugby.
Average salaries for rugby players with Houston SaberCats
The senior rugby players at Houston SaberCats earn from $25K-$30K per season.
Mid-range players with several years experience are on $14K-$20K.
Less experienced players are paid about $10K for the season.
The lowest pay is for part-time players paid on a pay-to-play basis at minimum wage.
These salaries may seem low if you are familiar with contracts in other countries. I’ll give you some comparisons at the end of this article.
Did Covid Impact Salaries At Old Glory?
The 2020/21 Major League Rugby season was shortened due to Covid restrictions. The tournament was cancelled five weeks into the season.
It’s a credit to the league that all the franchises paid their players for the season despite the shutdown.
In many other countries, professional clubs negotiated with their players to take a 10-25% pay cut.
Cynics might point out that the salaries are very low in the MLR already.
But that doesn’t mean that the franchise owners shouldn’t get credit for treating their players well in a tough time for everybody.
Impact Of The Salary Cap
MLR franchises are not allowed to exceed an agreed cap on the total salaries for their squad. The level is currently $500K.
Any franchise can increase its cap by participating in a set of player and community development activities.
It’s been confirmed that Houston SaberCats hit the targets laid out by MLR.
This is due to their academy program which gives opportunities to younger players to make their way into professional rugby. The academy provides coaching to High School and under-20 age grades.
Meeting the development targets means that the franchise cap increases by $250K.
Note that the extra budget can’t go directly on player salaries. But the club can play extra income to players who are also coaching at the development and youth levels.
How Do The SaberCats Afford The Player Salaries?
You may be wondering if the gate receipts are enough to cover player salaries. The answer is that they’re not.
The majority and minority owners of the franchise are two brothers who made their wealth in oil trading. In other words, typical Texas businessmen. This helps with the budget!
You can read more in our article on the owners of Houston SaberCats.
How Does Houston SaberCats Compare With Clubs In Other Countries?
I mentioned that there are several South African players in the setup with Currie Cup and some Super Rugby experience.
Check out our article on how much rugby players are paid in South Africa.
A lot of supporters are also interested in how much do rugby players earn in England.