This article looks at the salaries of Northampton Saints rugby players in the English Premiership.
It’s true that individual salaries are private contracts and the details are seldom made public by the club.
However, several companies associated with player agents have published averages across the Premiership. This lets us estimate the wage ranges within a club while also identifying the highest earners.
How Do Northampton Saints Players Get Paid?
First, let’s take a look at the different ways that players are paid. It’s not just through club salaries.
Their entire salary can be made up of several income streams:
- Monthly salary from the Northampton club
- Win bonuses for Premiership matches
- Brand deals, endorsements, and sponsorships
- Image licensing and rights
- International test caps (for England or other countries)
- Touring with the British & Irish Lions
Northampton Saints pay the monthly salary and bonuses for each player.
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 Northampton Saints and by England.
Image licensing and sponsorships
Image rights may be purchased by external companies who want to use player photographs in their advertising campaigns.
This varies from huge brands (e.g. clothing) to local shops. If you live in the town of Northampton, you may see the faces of less well-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.
All the Northampton Saints players agreed to take a twenty-five percent cut. 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 Northampton Saints Rugby Player?
The average salary for Northampton Saints rugby players is about £120K for senior players.
Young Northampton Saints 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 Northampton Saints 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?
Northampton Saints’ highest-paid player in recent years is Scotland flyhalf Dan Biggar. His contract is reportedly £600,000 per year.
Winger Taqele Naiyaravoro is reportedly on £400K.
Locks are highly valued in the Premiership. England’s Courtney Lawes can switch between back row and lock, which is also useful.
This brings Lawes a reported salary of about £320,000 per year.
However, a club can only have two marquee players whose salaries are excluded from the salary cap (more on this later).
So, Courtney Lawe’s salary is counted in Northampton Saints’ 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 Dan Biggar gets the big bucks, and Courtney Lawes is well above the average range.
Tighthead prop Paul Hill may not have a big international profile, but we can expect that he commands a salary toward the top of the average 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.
Northampton Saints usually have at least one player in the 23-man matchday squad. Courtney Lawes has been a fixture in the side.
How Much Do Saints 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 Northampton Saints 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 for international matches. 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.
Two Northampton Saints players went on the South Africa tour. Courtney Lawes and Dan Biggar got the extra wages in their annual income that year.
If the Lions had won the 2021 series in South Africa, the duo would have received a £10,000 bonus. Unfortunately, they came home without the extras!
How Do Northampton Saints 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.
Northampton Saints has benefited for years from investment by a local businessman. You can read more in our article on who owns Northampton Saints.