This article reviews the salaries of Rugby ATL players in the MLR.
It’s true that salaries are private contracts between the club and the players. Clubs rarely publish the details.
However, some information gets out in the small circles of Rugby Union in the USA. We’ve gathered and reviewed all the details from credible sources.
How Do Rugby ATL Players Get Paid?
Before we take a deep dive into the figures, we’ll look at the different ways that players earn their annual income.
It’s not just through monthly club wages. A player’s full income can come from several sources.
Note that some players are only compensated with wages. The other options on this list will only apply to a selection of players in the Atlanta squad.
- Monthly club wages
- Rent subsidies
- Help with finding part-time employment
- Part-time coaching
- International match fees (these are not paid by the Atlanta franchise)
Younger players often choose to share in a group house arranged through the franchise. They can live nearly rent-free near the ATL training facilities in Marietta, Georgia.
The elite clubs in England and Ireland have similar arrangements for their academy players.
This won’t be attractive to players with partners and children. But a player with a family 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 ATL 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 lower-paid players to get a second income during the off-season.
What Do Rugby ATL Rugby Players Get Paid?
If you check out our general round-up of salaries in the MLR, you’ll see that the star players can earn up to $45K.
However, Rugby ATL hasn’t focused on signing seasoned internationals from elite rugby countries like England and New Zealand.
They do have talented players from South Africa, New Zealand, and Ireland (to name just some of the overseas countries represented in the squad).
But none of these players have years of experience at the top level of their domestic competitions.
Average salaries for rugby players with Rugby ATL
The senior rugby players at Rugby ATL 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?
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 Rugby ATL hit the targets laid out by MLR.
This is due to their academy that gives playing opportunities for players across the deep southern states. The franchise also runs after-school programs for underage players.
Meeting the development targets means that the ATL 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 Rugby ATL 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 is a highly successful real estate owner. The minority owner is in software. This helps with the budget!
You can read more in our article on the ownership of Rugby ATL.
How Does Rugby ATL Compare With Clubs In Other Countries?
There are several South African players at the club. Check out our article on how much rugby players earn in South Africa.
Several members on the ATL roster played representative rugby at Under-19s and Under-20s level for Ireland. Check out our article on how much rugby players earn in Ireland.
There are also some Kiwi players in the setup. Check out our article on how much players are paid in New Zealand.