PopularityAttendance – Union When it comes to bodies through turnstiles, England's union game has the edge. The Aviva Premiership (union) had an average attendance of 13,354 in the 2014/15 season while the Super League (league) 2014 season had an average attendance of 8,365. Twickenham attracted 81,193 fans for Saracens' triumph over Bath in the Premiership final in May, while St. Helens' victory over Wigan Warriors at last year's Super League final was seen by 70,102 at Old Trafford.
Outside of the UK, France's Top 14 union competition enjoyed an average attendance of 13,207 while Australia's National Rugby League (NRL) attracted an average of 16,127. TV audience – League This year's Aviva Premiership final on BT Sport generated a record peak audience of 297,000. Meanwhile, early in the Super League season, Wigan's 24 – 16 victory over Huddersfield on Sky Sports in February attracted an average audience of 299,300 according to the Rugby League Express. Last year's grand final attracted 450,000 viewers when broadcast live on Sky Sports and when BBC showed highlights a day later 600,000 – perhaps enticed by word news of Ben Flower's savage red card offence – tuned in. Rugby league's massive following in Australia was well demonstrated by a TV audience of 4.5m for the NRL grand final and 2.21m watched the decider of the annual State of Origin series between Queensland and New South Wales.
MoneyHighest paid player – Union When the World Cup finishes, Dan Carter will become the highest paid rugby player in the world of any code. Carter will join Racing Metro where he will earn £1.4m a year. League convert Sam Burgess is England and the Premiership's highest paid player, with his first union contract at Bath worth £500,000 a year. Read more: Rugby's 10 highest paid players Rugby league's biggest earner is Daly Cherry-Evans, who signed a lifetime contract with NRL side Manly worth up to £800,000, after reneging on a deal with Gold Coast Titans. Highest salary cap – Union Union clubs in the Aviva Premiership must stick to a salary cap of £5.1m, with two excluded players. In contrast, Super League clubs must work within a budget of just £1.85m, but recently voted for a new marquee player rule to allow clubs to pay more for a star signing. Club owners had pushed for the rule after a number of rugby league stars – including Burgess – left for the richer NRL which operates under a £2.6m salary cap. Yet no league with a salary cap even comes close to the £8.6m permitted to French Top 14 teams.
|Union – Top 14||£8.6m|
|Union – Aviva Premiership||£5.1m|
|League – NRL||£2.6m|
|Union – Super Rugby (Aus teams only)||£2.2m|
|League – Super League||£1.9m|