Connect with us


The Five Highest-paid SA Rugby Players

As world-beaters twice over, it’s only fitting that Springbok stars are making serious bank, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld as he highlights the five highest-paid South African rugby players.


As world-beaters twice over, it’s only fitting that Springbok stars are making serious bank, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld as he highlights the five highest-paid South African rugby players.

Outside of fighting, rugby is arguably the most physically demanding sport there is. Players put their bodies on the line week in and week out, running full steam into one bone-rattling collision after the other for 80 minutes.

Given all the sacrifices, most players don’t get paid enough, especially when compared to the ludicrous amounts soccer players earn, but those who’ve evolved into rugby royalty do get compensated accordingly.

Four double World Cup-winning Springbok superstars are among the 10 highest-paid players in the world. Let’s look at the top five South African players on the money-making front:

5: Eben Etzebeth

Frankly, it’s tough to ascertain who’s the fifth-best-paid South African player as local stars’ salaries aren’t disclosed. It’s believed, though, that Springbok enforcer Etzebeth is making serious money at the Sharks. You’d think as much as the £900,000 (R18.34m) he coined at his previous club Toulon made him the top-earning forward in world rugby.

A freak athlete fuelled by controlled aggression, the youngest-ever Springbok centurion is a one-of-a-kind titan who elevated what it means to be an enforcer whilst bringing a workrate never before associated with the role. The monstrous second-rower is the prototypical Springbok and the best to ever don the green and gold No. 4 jersey.

4: Handre Pollard

There is no better big-match player in the business than the Springboks’ steely general. The only flyhalf in the history of the game to pilot his country to two world championships, Pollard’s composure under pressure is the stuff of legend.

From his semi-final-winning penalty goal against Wales in the 2019 World Cup to the 50m game-winner in last year’s final-four nailbiter against England, Pollard is the one man you bet your house on to slot the big kick.

The man with ice in his veins is a hot commodity and was the highest-paid player in the world during his time at Montpellier. The 29-year-old now comes in at No. 10 on the list with an annual salary of £610,000 (R14,3 million) at the Leicester Tigers.

3: Siya Kolisi

An icon of the game and a national treasure, Kolisi transcends rugby like few players before him. One of just two captains to lift the World Cup on two occasions, he is, indeed, a bona fide legend, but he’s so much more than a special player. He’s a special man, a unifier from the streets of Zwide, an inspirational figure who achieved the impossible…twice.

He’s the type of individual who elevates a club by simply joining them, bringing fresh eyes to the franchise who aren’t so much interested in rugby but rather have heard of the legend that is Kolisi and wants to experience his aura and witness his greatness.

Released early from his contract at the Sharks to allow him to set sail for Racing 92 last year, the 32-year-old flank reportedly makes £850,000 (R19,9 million) per season, putting him fourth on the list of top 10 earners.

2: Faf de Klerk

One of the game’s great characters and most recognised players with his trademark blonde locks, De Klerk is one of the most complete scrumhalves around.

Ultra-accurate with his box kicks and dangerous around the fringes, both as a sniper and needle-threading visionary, his skill, decision-making and experience have earned him a place amongst the game’s elite. 

Big in Japan, having joined the Canon Eagles ahead of last year’s World Cup, the 32-year-old takes home £900,000 (R21,1 million), making him the third-biggest-earner in the game.

1: Cheslin Kolbe

The epitome of the phrase dynamite comes in small packages, Kolbe’s the biggest little man in the game today. A human highlight reel on attack and a giant killer on defence, the diminutive dynamo is one of the most electrifying, captivating and respected players on the planet. 

After helping the Springboks retain the World Cup last year, the 30-year-old winger made the move from Toulon to Japan’s Suntory Sungoliath, where he is raking in £937,000 (R21,9 million), making him the second-highest-paid player in the world, behind Scotland flyhalf Finn Russell, who earns over £1 million at Bath.

Quintin Van Jaarsveld is a former MDDA-Sanlam SA Local Sports Journalist of the Year and a former three-time Vodacom KwaZulu-Natal Sports Journalist of the Year. Formerly the sports editor and Outstanding Journalist of the Year award winner at The Fever Media Group, deputy editor at eHowzit, editor at and senior staff writer at, he boasts over 15 years’ experience and is currently a freelance sports writer.

More in Rugby