Questions for... The Rugby Agent

Questions for... The Rugby Agent

Rugby : Questions for the Rugby agent

Tom Fowler is a Director of Phoenix Sports Management, a boutique management agency for professional Rugby players. Some of their more illustrious clients include Toby Flood, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Geoff Parling amongst many others. We took a moment to fire some not very awkward questions at Tom.

                        Phoenix client Toby Flood

                        Phoenix client Toby Flood

The Sporting Blog: How many players do you look after right now?

Tom Fowler: We manage around 60 players globally, some exclusively and some with their ‘home’ agent. For example, when an Australian player comes to play in Europe, we will manage that player alongside his Australian agent.

TSB: What makes a good agent?

TF: Foremost, honesty and integrity. The rugby world is a small world and people can smell you out pretty quickly if you start lying or being deceitful. Being responsive and organised are important traits as well.

TSB: Tell us one thing about your job that our readers are unlikely to know. 

TF: We are a one stop shop for clients, so as well as helping to negotiate their contracts, we are there for players in their hour of need. We have fielded countless calls at 10 pm on a Sunday night with a player in some sort of trouble.... you have to think quickly and sometimes out of the box to be able to come up with a solution.

TSB: Would you consider your clients friends or simply work associates?

TF: First and foremost it is a work relationship, you need to deliver for your clients plain and simple and if you don’t they will walk. That being said, with guys that I have looked after for a long time, a friendship naturally develops. I have been to some players’ weddings, kids’ birthdays etc and likewise I invited a few of my clients to my wedding.

A tribute to Adam Ashley-Cooper

TSB: What are your dreams for the sport? 

TF: From a personal point of view, I'd like to see Pacific Islanders recognised for their contribution to World Rugby. Whether that be reflected in their salaries or for their national teams to compete on a level playing field. It would be nice to have a Super Rugby team based in one of the Islands.

From a professional point of view – to keep growing Phoenix.

TSB: It’s well known that agents are never without their phone(s), what do people want from you all the time?

TF: It can be anything from asking for some career advice, a new pair of boots, some help sorting out home contents insurance or whether I have a tight-head prop who would come and play in Italy for Euro 2000 a month!

TSB: Who is the one player you wish you could have signed?

TF: From any sport – it would have to David Beckham as he seems like a top lad and the commercial deals you could be doing for him would be amazing.  Representing him would open so many doors.  Recently I have also been thinking that Anthony Joshua wouldn’t be a bad client!

TSB: Who is the scariest person in the sport that you have had to deal with?

TF: Probably my wife when a big deal I was working on almost ruined our honeymoon!

                    Phoenix Client Geoff Parling

                    Phoenix Client Geoff Parling

TSB: If any of our readers want to pursue a career as a sports agent, what piece of advice are you giving?

TF: Try and get an internship as soon as possible with a sports management company.

TSB: What time do you start and finish work each day?

TF: The beauty and also the extremely trying thing about our job is that there are no set office hours and equally no two days are alike.  This is great as it keeps you on your toes and keeps you motivated but it is very rare to be able to totally switch off.

TSB: As someone that has worked in the sport for over a decade, what changes would you make at a macro level?

TF: See above re the Pacific Islands.  Also the players are playing too much rugby these days and the injury load is increasing, meaning shorter careers.  The guys on the Lions Tour will have played close to 12 months of rugby, after only just finishing the regular season!

TSB: What sort of advice do you have for younger players that are thinking of going pro?

TF: Most of the guys that we represent are already pro or very close to being so so there is not much advice I can give them apart from try and keep up your studies off the field. It’s way too easy to come home after a day’s training and switch on the Xbox – your rugby career isn’t going to last forever sadly and I would say careers will be getting shorter and shorter because of injury, so having a back-up plan is very important.

TSB: Rugby players traditionally are known for their love of post match socialising…. What’s the best night out you’ve had with one of your clients?

TF: Ha, I’ve had some great ones especially with an old Tongan mate who played for Newcastle and Harlequins called Epi Taione. Most of the players these days are too professional to be having big nights out anyway – as are their agents!

TSB: You live in France. Do you see the future of club rugby in the Northern hemisphere being dominated by French clubs?

TF: Yes and no.  French rugby has traditionally had the financial muscle to attract the top players, but you see some English clubs rivalling them these days. Some of the top salaries in the Premiership are on a par with what French clubs are offering but obviously the French can also sell their lifestyle, beaches etc! Where French clubs tend to fall down is in the strength, conditioning and medical departments. Many more top players will now head to the UK and Ireland when they have a choice in my opinion.

TSB: Why don’t more people watch club rugby on TV?

TF: Football! Try and find a pub that will show a rugby match instead of a football match. That being said the Argentina V England game was on BBC 2 the other night and BT have really upped the game of televised club rugby in England over the last 5 years.

TSB: Why do your players choose you over the competition?

TF: Usually word of mouth from one of my current players. As I said, rugby is a small world and if you are doing a good job for someone then they will speak about you in the changing room and you will usually get a call or two.

TSB: Who is going to win the next Rugby World cup?

TF: Tough one but England are building very nicely and have some real depth in key positions now.  

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