14 Dec 2016

Big pay rise for New Zealand rugby players

3:48 pm on 14 December 2016

Professional New Zealand rugby players are set for a financial windfall over the next three years.

Hurricanes player Beauden Barrett celebrates scoring a try during the
Super Rugby Final between the Hurricanes and Lions.

Beauden Barrett celebrates scoring a try during this year's Super Rugby final between the Hurricanes and Lions. Photo: PhotoSport

New Zealand Rugby and the New Zealand Rugby Players Association have agreed a new three-year deal, which will see the total pool for player payments rise from $121 million to $176m.

The money will be spread out, from All Black level all the way down to provincial and development level as well as rugby sevens.

The maximum Super Rugby retainers will increase $5000 to $195,000, while the minimum retainers will also increase $5000 to $75,000.

Provincial rugby's maximum retainer will remain $55,000, while the minimum retainer has increased to $21,000 from $18,000.

Meanwhile, the minimum retainer for women's sevens players is now higher than men's - $45,000 compared to $40,000.

The increase is due to New Zealand Rugby's new contracts with its major sponsors and for broadcast rights, as well as for the upcoming British and Irish Lions Tour in 2017.

As part of the agreement, new player-conduct education programmes will be implemented following several high-profile off-field incidents involving rugby players during the year.

A new illicit drug education programme has also been included.

New Zealand Rugby has also boosted its fund of "top-up retainer payments", used as sweeteners to discourage top players from heading overseas to pursue more lucrative contracts, from $15.9m to $24.8m.

The special retainer payments have previously only been employed for established All Blacks but will be extended to include players in Super Rugby and provincial rugby.