WATCH: Player wages - Premiership v Pro14
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: The European Champions Cup takes a break as we head to the Premiership and Pro14 for the Christmas season.
It is fitting that we look at how the players are rewarded.
Using data collected over numerous years from sports agency Esportif Intelligence, an interesting picture begins to develop on the key differences between the Premiership and the Pro 14.
The most intriguing nugget of information is that the average wage is 15% higher in the Aviva Premiership, at £200,000, that equates to roughly £30,000 a year in the difference between the two leagues.
That’s a lot but that figure is estimated to rise again throughout the course of this season by 5%.
The gulf in wages like most sectors of society isn’t felt across the board, with the top tier of players receiving equally large salaries across both leagues.
Where the differential lies is with tier 2 and tier 3 players in the Pro 14 earning considerably less than their Premiership counterparts.
“The PRO12 try to pay quality players at its top end more. It’s the second and third choice players at those teams who on a whole are not paid as much compared to those in the Aviva,” said Hannah Bowe, head of Esportifs advisory services.
“To me, it is representative of the strategy traditionally employed by the PRO12 teams and unions to be competitive, which has facilitated their national teams’ competitiveness, by looking after their most influential players where possible, whilst being more constrained on total budget.
“That is now being somewhat eroded by the external revenue streams in the Premiership, which has enabled clubs to attract and keep marquee players who may have headed for France.”
In terms of positions unsurprisingly tens find themselves as the highest paid players in both leagues, while in the Premiership blindside flankers are the lowest earners and tighthead props are the lowest paid of their Celtic cousins.
“If you looked at the best starting XV of the Aviva and PRO12 last season, the combined salary would be over £5m per team,” said Hannah.
“Traditionally, the most expensive team would have been from the PRO12 but the signs are that is changing.”
“The difference between the top and bottom spending teams in the Aviva will tighten this year but I don’t really see that happening in the PRO14.”
“There are four or five teams spending comparatively with the Aviva but a wider gap to sides like the Dragons and Connacht. Organisers of the PRO14 will hope the new broadcasting deal with South Africa will help narrow the gap.”