Highbury Safika Media has confirmed their entry into the sports management market and the signing of Springbok and Eastern Province Kings loose-forward Luke Watson as their first rugby client.
HSM, the largest independent publishing house in South Africa, also service the media requirements of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee.
HSM CEO Kevin Ferguson said Watson’s personality and involvement in the development of the Kings as a Super Rugby franchise were primary factors in the company wanting to be aligned with the player.
‘We believe there is a market in South Africa to properly manage the portfolios of our sportspeople, in terms of service delivery to the player/athlete and by extension the investor and sponsor of such player/athlete.
‘We are not an agency. We don’t have agents. Our principles are based on managing the player, and this extends beyond just their sports portfolio,’ said Ferguson.
‘We were very specific in approaching Luke. He has committed to building something special in the Eastern Cape and South African rugby and we as a company with a very strong sports background also have a commitment to the region and the massive role the Kings can play in South Africa rugby.’
Watson, who turned down a three-year contract extension to play for and captain English club Bath, returned to South Africa this week.
‘Playing for the Kings is a wonderful opportunity for me as a player and as a person. I played for Eastern Province as an 18 year-old. I was schooled at Grey PE. I believe in what can be achieved in the region and what value the region will be to the strength of South African rugby,’ said Watson.
‘As a player I also wanted to be aligned with a vibrant company whose people share my enthusiasm for Eastern Province and South African rugby and who also believe there is a different way to manage the careers of players. Most players simply have agents and HSM’s service to a player far extends negotiating a contract. It is about relationships, based on integrity, and about maximizing the potential of the player off the field and ensuring the player can make a contribution to the greater South African society.
‘There have been many people who questioned my sanity for giving up what I had at Bath to return to Port Elizabeth but those close to me know what the region means to me and my partnership with HSM will also allow me to make a contribution that goes beyond what I do on the field every weekend,’ Watson added.
Watson arrives in Port Elizabeth at the weekend and will represent the Kings in the guise of the South African Kings in June’s IRB-sanctioned Emerging Nations tournament to be hosted by Romania. The Kings replace the Emerging Springboks as South Africa’s tournament representative.