The Old Diocesan Issue5 Mar2020 - Page 40

The sports agent:
Hilton Houghton
There were many who predicted he would play rugby at the
highest level. Instead Hilton Houghton rejected sport, before
returning to it later as an agent. Today he is the quiet man
behind a raft of Springbok success stories. By Tim Richman
Many hairstyles ago… Hilton Houghton
with Scarra Ntubeni and Siya Kolisi, 2010.
was put on this earth
for rugby. Rugby paid
my school fees; rugby’s
paid my living and provided for
my family; rugby’s all I know.”
So says Hilton Houghton (1992F)
when we meet for a chat six weeks
after South Africa’s Rugby World
Cup success in Japan. True words
they may be, but his is not the
story many would have predicted
for him back in school.
As the agent of five World Cup
winners, Hilton may have been
forgiven for looking to catch some
of the limelight in the heady days
that followed the tournament, but
for a man who deals in modern
sports celebrity he has about as
low a profile as is possible. I only
know of his influential role in
South African rugby by chance:
my brother Simon (1992W) has
been telling me he’s worth an
interview for the last year. After
the unforgettable 32-12 win over
the Poms, point taken.
Of course, anyone who watched
rugby at Bishops in the early 1990s
will recognise Hilton’s name. He’s
come a long – and certainly
unexpected – way since then. So
how goes the road less travelled?
As those old Bishops rugby fans
know so well, there has never
been a time quite like the golden
decade and a half from the late
1970s onwards under the almost
spiritual guidance of Basil Bey and
Tim Hamilton-Smith. The 1st XV
went unbeaten in 1979 for the
first time in 30 years, and the
1980s climaxed with the allconquering glory of the Ehrentraut
years. Those who watched the 1989
vintage, with its mammoth front
row at one end (see p78) and its
sublime outside backs at the
other, thought it was a team in a
generation – yet, three years later,
there was another to compare.
The 1992 side scored nearly six
tries per match, and for a quick
perspective of the talent it fielded,
consider its heart. Number 7 was
Douglas Boyes (1992F), WP Craven
Week; 8 was Selborne Boome
(1992S), future Bok; 9 was Dave
von Hoesslin (1993S), future Bok;
10 was Herschelle Gibbs (1992O), a
better rugby player than cricketer;
and 12 was Houghton (1992F),
team captain and WP Craven
Week vice. The reserve 13 was
Robbie Fleck (1993O), future Bok.
Up in Rugby Valhalla, Basil and
Tim are probably watching replays
of that side, if Basil’s description

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