This article looks at how much players earn at the Rugby United New York franchise in the MLR.
It’s true that salaries are private between players and the franchise. Clubs rarely put contract details into the public domain.
However, information leaks out in the small rugby circles of the United States. We’ve gathered all the details from credible sources.
How Do RUNY Players Get Paid?
Before we get into the figures, we’ll review the different ways that players earn their total income.
Monthly club wages may just be part of the total. The player’s full earnings for the year may come from several sources.
Some players in the squad will only be compensated with club wages. The other options on the list below will apply to a subset within the New York squad.
- Monthly club wages
- Subsidized rent
- Help with finding part-time employment
- Part-time coaching
- International match fees (these are not paid by the Texas franchise)
Younger players often choose to share accommodation arranged through the franchise. They can take a room in a large house and pay low rent in an expensive city like the Big Apple.
It’s also a popular choice for overseas players without families.
This is similar to arrangements for academy players in the professional clubs in England and Ireland.
Helping with part-time employment
The MLR competition lasts seven months. Many players will work a second job during the off-season.
Some of the younger players may also take part-time jobs that can fit around their rugby training requirements.
A former owner of RUNY had a building firm, and he provided employment opportunities to the players. When Irish player Mark O’Keefe was at the franchise, he got a role as projecct manager on a building site (he had no prior experience and had to learn fast!).
Experienced players can also take part-time coaching roles.
England’s Ben Foden got involved with coaching in the first season that he joined the New York franchise.
Different Categories Of Players In The Squad
If you check out our general overview of player salaries in Major League Rugby, you’ll see that the star players can earn up to $45K.
Who are the top earners at RUNY?
Rugby United New York has a few seasoned internationals who fit the bill. I’d expect former England international Ben Foden and former All Black Andy Ellis to be on the $45,000 level.
Senior and mid-level players
There are several other Kiwis on the RUNY books who have plenty of years of experience in their domestic leagues.
However, they didn’t pick up many international caps past underage level. These are valuable senior players who aren’t at the marquee level.
Some seasoned Samoan internationals like prop Taulafo are also at this senior or mid-level range.
The squad is supplemented by several players who aren’t on monthly wages. Instead, they get paid part-time for training hours and match time.
Now we’ve explained the levels, let’s take a look at the numbers.
What Do Rugby United New York Players Get Paid?
Star players at Rugby United New York earn up to a capped maximum of $45K per season.
Senior players at RUNY earn from $20K to $30K.
Mid-range players with several years experience earn from $10K to $20K.
Part-time players at the New York franchise are 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.
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 United New York hit the targets laid out by MLR.
This is largely due to their academy that gives a pathway for local college and club players to grow towards a professional rugby contract.
Meeting the development targets means that their 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.
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.
How Does RUNY Afford The Player Salaries?
You may be wondering if the match-day gate receipts are enough to cover player salaries. The answer is that they’re not.
The majority owner of the MLR franchise is a New Zealand equity investor. This helps with the budget!
You can read more in our article on the current and former owners of Rugby United New York.
How Does Rugby United NY Compare With Clubs In Other Countries?
There are a lot of Kiwi players at RUNY. Check out our article on how much rugby players earn in New Zealand.
Ben Foden played at the highest level in England as well as picking up 36 caps for his country. Check out our article on the salaries at Northampton Saints, his former English club.