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Reigning champions now best paid team in world

By Jack Austin

England's players will share a mammoth total of more than £3.5m if they manage to win back-to-back Grand Slams.

Of the £3.5m, £1m will be shared among the squad as a special bonus, which is up a giant 66 per cent on the £600,000 Eddie Jones' side divided up after completing their first championship clean sweep for 13 years.

The remainder of the money will be made up of match and training fees, as well as image rights, after a deal with the Aviva Premiership clubs was concluded this week.

The agreement will strengthen England's position as the highest-paid squad in world rugby.

English rugby's governing body, the Rugby Football Union (RFU), will also secure a £20m payout if the Red Rose finish in the top two of the Six Nations table. Should England win the championship but Eddie Jones lose his perfect record as head coach, then the squad will still share a bonus of £610,000 - £10,000 more than they got for the Grand Slam last year and up from the £368,000 had they achieved the same feat in 2016.

These new bonuses come after the RFU and the Rugby Players' Association struck a new deal on player payments in November.

Each player will earn, excluding bonuses, £22,000 per game - a 30 per cent rise from £17,000 - for their match fees, image rights and training fees.

The bonus for any clean sweep will be shared on a pro-rata basis but any member of each 23-man matchday squad would receive more than £43,000, taking the total earnings for a player who plays in every game of a Grand Slam triumph to £153,000 - £43,000 more than last year.

The 66 per cent rise is due to the decision, agreed to by the players, to end the awarding of a squad bonus for winning every game of the autumn internationals. Therefore, players earned only match fees, training fees and image rights for their victories over South Africa, Fiji, Argentina and Australia last year, and did not get a share of the £300,000 bonus they would have had in previous years.

Meanwhile, Jones is to attend a fixture in the third tier of club rugby on a scouting mission for England's RBS 6 Nations opener against France. The Rugby Football Union said Jones will be at the National League One clash between Rosslyn Park and Loughborough Students at The Rock today to analyse the performance of referee Angus Gardner.

Gardner will oversee England's showdown with France at Twickenham next Saturday and Jones is hoping to gain an insight into the style of his fellow Australian at the 2,000-capacity Priory Lane ground.

The Six Nations champions concluded their training camp in Portugal yesterday.

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