Rahul Bose might be better known as an actor, but he is also a former rugby player who played India for over a decade. After hanging up his boots, he is now on a mission to popularise the sport in the country.
“Rugby is making steady progress in India,” he said told Sportstar during an interview last weekend at Bhubaneswar, where he was one of the speakers at the Ekamra Sports Literary Festival . “Already rugby is played in 215 districts in the country.”
He admits a lot needs to be done. “At this point of time, 40,000 men play rugby in India and that is not a great number for country of 1.2 billion,” he said. “We want that number to go up to four million.”
'Passion and knowledge'
Rugby should not be run in a haphazard manner, Bose noted. “I am happy that the sport is run by former players, there are no politicians, no rich persons,” he said. “None of us make money. We are rather spending our money. The sport is run on passion and knowledge.”
He said his job was to raise the profile of rugby. “I have been working on this for the last 19 months,” he said. “The plan is for four years. Indian rugby will have some big news in 2020.”
Bose was confident rugby would become one of the 10 most popular sports in India within a couple of years. “We have to remember that India played its first Test in 1932, but we became the World No. 1 only in 2009; yes, we won the World Cup in 1983, but that was in a different format,” he said. “So it took us well over 70 years to reach the top in cricket. As for rugby, we have been around for only 26 years in the international arena; we have moved from the World No. 98 to 74 in that time. Not many Indian teams have made as much progress in any sport.”
He said it would take India 10 years to reach the world's top 50 in rugby. “Our aim is to be among top 25 percent of the world’s 125 nations within 25 years,” he said. “It is no rocket science to determine what we need for that: we need boys and girls and the right kind of training facility. To fund all that we need sponsors, for which we need presence in the media.”