Sales & Business Development Manager at IMG Media, Sam Stitcher speaks about his Rugby playing career at Yorkshire Carnegie, Harlequins, London Wasps and Esher between 2005 and 2012, and how he handled going from being a semi-professional player to a fully-fledged professional. Sam still plays Rugby for Eastern Suburbs in Australia, where he admits that it was neither the sport nor business that forced him to move from the UK to ‘Down Under’, but a girlfriend at the time. Although his business career has taken off, as Sam explains the various roles he has at the largest independent producers and distributors of sports media, IMG.
Even though Sam is just 31 years old, business has been a part of his life for many years, but insists that neither his corporate career nor his Rugby career take priority over the other and both form a part of his identity. Sam says it was natural for him to peruse a life in business while also playing Rugby, as he was often overlooked for the starting team at each club he was at. However his Rugby background brought with it opportunities that allowed him to network with some top businesses and ultimately landed him a job at IMG. Sam details the processes involved in obtaining broadcast rights to different types of sports and events, as well as how the company goes about selling and distributing the rights of Rugby games, both club and international. IMG acquired the rights to UFC in 2016 and Sam reflects on the broadcast deals that were setup for the super-fight between Floyd Mayweather and Connor McGreggor in Las Vegas in August this year.
Sam speaks about how the quality of Rugby in the Southern Hemisphere is still high, despite a dwindling number of spectators attending Super Rugby games at stadiums in recent years and how he believes that broadcasters making the sport more accessible on television worldwide is not the reason for the decline. Sam also feels that broadcast rights for Rugby competitions will become more in demand in the future, which is a positive for the sport and its ability to reach a larger audience across the globe will increase. Each professional Rugby player needs to decide for themselves when they should start making plans for life after Rugby according to Sam, but highly recommends they remain proactive throughout.