Rugby: Ex-All Black Charles Piutau tops rugby’s rich list

Former New Zealand representative Charles Piutau has once again topped a list of the world’s highest-paid rugby union players – one that includes just a single current All Black.

English website released their analysis of rugby’s biggest salary earners last week, revealing the current pay-gap between New Zealand-based players and those taking the field in Europe and Japan.

The website came to its final list after compiling “reports from Forbes, reputable news outlets and a variety of official sources to get us as close to the mark as possible.”

Crucially, the earnings listed for each player do not include income outside of listed club salaries such as bonuses and sponsorship and are before any tax is taken.

Regardless, it’s an eye-opening list with the top seven earners all playing their rugby in Europe; while two ply their trade in Japan.

One of the latter is current All Blacks first five eighth Beauden Barrett who took up a sabbatical deal with Suntory Sungoliath in Japan’s Top League earlier this year. By doing so, Barrett became the league’s highest paid player.

Six of the top 10 play for southern hemisphere sides with South African players featuring most prominently.’s top 10 highest-paid rugby players 2021/22

9 = Owen Farrell (England/Saracens) – $NZ1.44m
9 = Michael Hooper (Australia/Toyota Verblitz) – $NZ1.44m
7 = Beauden Barrett (New Zealand/Suntory Sungoliath) – $NZ1.5m
7 = Virimi Vakatawa (France/Racing 92) – $NZ1.5m
6 = Maro Itoje (England/Saracens) – $NZ1.54m
4 = Cheslin Kolbe (South Africa/Toulon) – $NZ1.63m
4 = Finn Russell (Scotland/Racing 92) – $NZ1.63m
3. Eben Etzebeth (South Africa/Toulon) – $NZ1.73m
1 = Charles Piutau (New Zealand/Bristol Bears) – $NZ1.92m
1 = Handre Pollard (South Africa/Montpellier) – $NZ1.92m

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