Former India rugby player and film personality Rahul Bose attended the second leg of the 2019 Rugby World Cup Trophy Tour held at the Bombay Gymkhana on Wednesday
In an exclusive chat with Reubyn Coutinho, Bose spoke about the state of rugby and what kind of impact Rugby World Cup 2019, which is going to be held in Japan, will have in India.
While Mumbai was chosen as a host city due to Rugby having its roots in the Bombay Gymkhana ground, why was Bhubaneswar chosen as the third city?
That’s because of rugby’s history with Bhuvneshwar that goes back 15 years ago when rugby was introduced in Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (K.I.S.S). It’s a free school for tribal children from Grade 1 to postgraduate. I can guarantee you that, out of their current 27,000 children, approximately 5,000 play rugby. Moreover, Bhuvneshwar is the largest youth Rugby playing centre in the country. It will also be hosting the next Asian Rugby Championships Under 19 girls, India’s first international tournament.
Also, Bhubaneswar is one of our big focus and I can guarantee you this, it’s going to be one of the sports capitals of India, in the next one year.
Will Bhuveneshwar be the sports capital in India for just rugby or other sports too?
I’m speaking here keeping all sports in mind. We’re hosting the Hockey World Cup and that’s a huge thing. Apart from cricket which has its stadium in Cuttack, Bhuvneshwar has also done well in 0other sports too. Athletics has a centre to hold events, as a place to hold camps, training, and events.
How would the 2019 Rugby World Cup Trophy Tour impact a budding player?
The trophy tour could spark up just initial interest, because let’s face it, just viewing the World Cup trophy doesn’t teach you to play the sport. People who are thinking about the sport will think seriously about it, people who are playing the sport will be encouraged, but we have to build on it. Immediately after this, we need to have the Asian Rugby Championships in October in Bhubaneswar after that we need to have the World Cup coming up in Japan, drum up a lot of support here and our teams, our national teams have to do well. So, it’s a long process, but this is just a start.
When could we see India make an attempt to qualify for the Rugby World Cup?.
Realistically, it should take about 50 years. In football, we haven’t yet done it. In rugby, we are ranked 84th in the men’s out of 120, meanwhile, in football, we are still ranked 140th.
When corrected that India are ranked No. 97 in football, Bose immediately said, “We’re 97th! Oh Great! I think that it’s taken a long time for these sports to come of age and Rugby is only 26 years old. About 40-50 years is realistic for us to break into the top 32 in the World Cup.
Who do you think will win the 2019 Rugby World Cup?
New Zealand. But I’m hoping Japan will make the semi-final as it is being held in Japan.