We have made a roadmap for boosting Rugby in India: IRFU president Rahul Bose

Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], March 14 (ANI): Actor and the president of Indian Rugby Football Union (IRFU) Rahul Bose said that the governing body of the sport has made a roadmap starting from Asian Games 2022 till Summer Olympics 2028 in Los Angeles that aims to bring Indian rugby to the biggest sporting event for the first time ever.

In an exclusive interview with ANI, Bose talked about the challenges faced by rugby in India, the roadmap made to bring the national teams amongst the top teams in rankings and the challenges he has faced internally and externally as the chief of IRFU.
“To increase rugby’s popularity in India, it has to be on TV. We are planning a huge property for rugby on TV, which will also have an online presence, since four and the half years. It should be happening by next year. It will transform the sport in India,” said Bose to ANI.

“Only 310 out of 740 districts in the country show interest in rugby. This property will generate numbers on TV and online. Nowadays, 50-50 commercial revenue is generated by TV and online mediums, unlike five years back, when it was only 10 per cent online and 90 per cent via TV.”

“We have made a roadmap for the sport starting from Asian Games 2022 till Olympics 2028. It would be really big if either men’s or women’s rugby teams, if not both, reach the Olympics 2028. Since 75 years, we have sent only teams for hockey in field sports. In football, we played at Olympics in 1950s. So it would be big to have one of our rugby teams, if not both, qualify for Olympics 2028 since it would be for the first time ever, after hockey,” concluded Bose.

The president said that IRFU is aiming to provide the best facilities to players, like high-performance centre, best coaches, mental psychologists, physical trainers, sports science, injury and rehab, strength and conditioning.

“We have also started paying national-level players who attend the camps. We have semi-professional rugby and there is still long way to go for us. Our sponsors and the Union Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports have encouraged and supported us a lot. Our spending power has increased by 2.5 times,” added Bose.

On challenges he has faced as president of IRFU, Bose said that viewership, spectatorship, international-level performances and sponsorship are external challenges.

Talking about internal challenges, he added, “An internal challenge is to change the culture of the federation and to make sure that our honesty and pure intentions. When they see it, they feel gratitude and give back to the sport. The cost of love is nothing. What is stopping the rugby ecosystem from loving the players?,” said Bose.

“I have never asked for any facilities, like during attending nationals. Nationals happen from 7:30 AM to 6:00 PM. 40 matches of 20 minutes take place for three days. During these matches, I keep running and walking around the field, looking at the players celebrating, being disappointed after a loss, getting treated for an injury or getting fitness checks. I have played for India for 11 years and at national level for 30 years. For me, the biggest source of happiness is seeing a player play in the field. Players also understand this and realise that I am just like them and my heart beats for the game, not for the meetings,” added Bose.

Bose said that it is important for the federation to keep a player at the centre of their thinking and make decisions while thinking from the perspective of a player.

“Usually it is talked about that nationals are organised where one is popular, where one gets more money or sponsors. Players should be getting good ground, weather and nice food,” added the president.

Bose revealed that one has to do a job while playing rugby as a national level player earns only Rs 2 lakh per year through the sport. But to remedy this, in two years, the federation is starting to give central contracts to national players, which will give athletes an income of 30-40 thousand per month. Rest of the players will also get enough money to play at the state level.

Bose also said that though he aims to write and direct a sports film based on rugby, the sport cannot be changed with help of the film industry with just one movie itself.

“A single film cannot do a lot. If I make one movie on rugby, people will talk about the sport for a month mostly. One film cannot create a movement. It has to lead to good on-field performances, a great property on TV and maybe something like an Arjuna award for a rugby player,” concluded Bose.