This article looks at the salaries of Scarlets rugby players.
It’s true that individual salaries are private contracts and the details are not disclosed by the club or the WRU (Welsh Rugby Union).
However, the WRU recently agreed on a restructuring of wages with the regions. Plenty of details came out from this process.
How Do Scarlets Rugby Players Get Paid?
First, let’s take a look at how the players are paid. It’s not just through club wages.
Their entire salary can be made up of several income streams:
- Monthly wages with the club
- Endorsements and brand deals
- International test match fees and win bonuses
- Touring with the British & Irish Lions (every four years)
Brand And Image Licensing Deals
Brand deals and sponsorships from third parties can be worth very different amounts across players.
Image licensing can be paid by third parties to use player photos in their advertising. This varies from huge brands (e.g. sports and retail) to local firms.
I won’t go into detail on these deals because the amounts vary so widely.
Who Pays The Scarlets Players?
In the latest salary scheme in Wales, the Union pays 80% of the salary of the top 38 players who play for the four regional clubs.
Scarlets pays 20% for players who fall into this top category. Then they pick up the full wage bill for every other player in the squad.
So, who are the Llanelli players in the elite 38? Well, the WRU doesn’t publish the list. But it’s not too difficult to work out the most likely.
Typical elite profile
These will be players who were regular picks in recent international squads.
But the list will also include a few players whose international days are waning but will be called up in an injury crisis.
And the WRU may want to reward some up-and-coming players on the edge of international call-up but in danger of being poached by England.
Scarlets in the 38
Here are the Scarlets I expect to be paid primarily from the WRU. They will also be the top earners at the club.
- Jake Ball
- Gareth Davies
- Jonathan Davies
- Ryan Elias
- Rob Evans
- Leigh Halfpenny
- Wyn Jones
- Jonny McNicholl
- Aaron Shingler
You can add Liam Williams to this list.
How Have Covid Restrictions Impacted Salaries?
The 2020/21 domestic season was shortened due to Covid restrictions. Match attendances were also curtailed.
TV revenue was reduced due to fewer matches. The drop in gate receipts also hit the club income.
The WRU negotiated pay cuts with the regions in 2021. Players in the senior squad took a 25% cut in earnings. Academy players were exempt.
This article uses the averages and reported salaries of more normal times.
You can mentally reduce the figures in this article in the immediate aftermath of the pandemic.
Scarlets Salary Ranges
The WRU has laid out seven tiers for salaries in every Welsh regional franchise.
If you want a more detailed explanation of the structure than what we give here, check out our general overview on Welsh rugby salaries.
Academy players earn about £15-20K. When they step up to their first professional contract, they can expect to double their salaries.
Here are the bands for the more experienced players.
|Salary Band||Salary Range||Typical Scarlets Players|
|B&I Lions||250K – 450K||Gareth & Jonathan Davies, Wyn Jones, Ken Owens, Leigh Halfpenny|
|Seasoned Internationals||180K – 300K||Ryan Elias, Rhys Patchell|
|Early Internationals||110K – 180K||Kieran Hardy, Jonny McNicholl|
|Marquee Players||Up to 160K||Aaron Shingler|
|Established Players||48K – 130K||Tom Price|
This graphic shows a somewhat simplified version:
Remember, these ranges cover every player in Wales. Ospreys’ Alun Wyn Jones probably sits alone at the top of the tree.
Scarlets have a lot of Lions on their books. It’s true that Halfpenny and Jonathan Davies didn’t go on the 2021 Lions tour.
But they were both standouts in previous tours and will be valued highly by the club. We can expect them to be earning at least £400K per year.
I’ve omitted Liam Williams as he is switching clubs. But he went on the most recent tour and is of high value.
Taking a pay cut to come home
It’s said that Leigh Halfpenny was earning over £700K per year in France when he played for Toulon. That is the premium that comes to a top goalkicker.
When Halfpenny came back to the Scarlets in 2017, he took an eye-watering pay cut of over £250K less than those dizzy heights.
Who Are The Highest Earners Below The Top Tier
Given that the senior salary range goes up to about £300K, which players are at the higher levels?
These will be the highest valued players who didn’t make a Lions tour.
Esportif publishes statistics for which positions earn the most in the PRO 14 (now the URC). Here’s the top-to-bottom list:
- #1 outhalf
- #2 locks
- #3 tight head prop
- #4 fullback
- #5 wings
- #6 blind side flanker
- #7 number eight
- #8 scrum half
- #9 outside center
- #10 inside center
- #11 loose head prop
- #12 openside flanker
- #13 hooker
We can expect flyhalf Rhys Patchell to be earning well over €300K.
Winger Josh Adams would be down the end of the top half of earners. But his Lions gig rockets him up the salary chart!
How Much Do Scarlets Players Get For Playing For Wales?
Match fees are about £5,500 with extra bonuses for image rights.
Wales has won several Six Nations championships in recent years. That brings a tidy win bonus per player of over €17K for the tournament success.
The British And Irish Lions Top Up
The tour that comes around every four years is a good bump to a player’s salary that year. The 2021 tour paid about €90K to the squad members.
Four Scarlets went on tour to South Africa:
- Gareth Davies
- Wyn Jones
- Ken Owens
- Liam Williams
If the Lions had won the 2021 series in South Africa, the quartet would have received nearly €12K as a bonus. Unfortunately, they came home without the extras!
What About Other Welsh Clubs?
Check out these articles to see how the Scarlets compare to their rival clubs.
- How much do Cardiff rugby players earn?
- How much do Ospreys players earn?
- How much do Dragons players earn?
What About Other Countries?
Scarlets also have some Kiwis in the squad. Check out our article on rugby player salaries in New Zealand.
Welsh fans often wonder how much players earn in neighboring countries. Here you go:
These overviews will also give you links to detailed articles about individual clubs and provinces.