This article reviews the salaries of NOLA Gold rugby players in the MLR.
It’s true that salaries are private contracts between the franchise and the players. The Louisiana franchise doesn’t publish the details.
However, information gets around the small circles of American rugby. We’ve collected and reviewed all the details from credible sources.
How Do NOLA Gold Rugby 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 the story. A player’s full income can come from several sources.
Note that some players in the New Orleans squad are only 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 the New Orleans franchise)
Younger players often choose to share in a group accommodation arranged through the franchise. Each will play a very low rent for a room in a large house.
The academy players in elite clubs in England and Ireland have similar arrangements.
This won’t be attractive to players with children. But they 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 NOLA Gold teammates.
They may be coaching at youth level or with local amateur clubs. These players will have gone through the formal coaching courses regulated by World Rugby.
Helping with part-time employment
The MLR competition lasts seven months. Franchises encourage players to get a second income during the off-season.
Cam Dolan has been with NOLA Gold for several seasons. You’ll also find his profile on LinkedIn where he’s listed as a Sales and Leasing Agent for a New Orleans retail company.
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 NOLA Gold Players Get Paid?
If you check out our more general look at pay in Major League Rugby, you’ll see that the star players can earn up to $45K.
However, NOLA Gold hasn’t focused on signing seasoned internationals from elite rugby countries like England and New Zealand
In fact, they have a lower proportion of overseas players than many of the other franchises. However, a few South Africans and Australians have found their way to New Orleans.
Average salaries for rugby players with NOLA Gold
The senior rugby players at NOLA Gold 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 canceled 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.
The Salary Cap In Major League Rugby
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 NOLA Gold 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.
Meeting the development targets means that their salary 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 Does NOLA Gold 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 owner of the franchise runs a successful law firm in the region. In addition, French giant Clermont Auvergne has a minority stake in the franchise. This helps with the budget!
You can read more in our article on who owns NOLA Gold.
How Does NOLA Gold Compare With Clubs In Other Countries?
There are several players at the club from down under. Check out our article on how much rugby players earn in Australia.
There are also some South African players in the setup. Check out our article on how much players are paid in South Africa.
I mentioned that Clermont, a French rugby club, has associations with NOLA Gold. If you’re curious, check out our article on how much rugby players are paid in France.