HYDERABAD: Rahul Bose took up rugby in school for all the wrong reasons — to find an outlet to settle a score with some guys, garner the attention of some cute girls and be able to play around in the dirt and not be yelled at for it. “It was only a couple of years later that I began to see how beautiful the game is. I began playing well only so I wouldn’t hurt myself. I saw how rugby has this unique technique and rhythm to it. The flow and poetry of the game, the rise and fall of its tempo were some things I began to fall for,” he says.
At a time when there were no national tournaments, Rahul went on to shine at inter-club matches and was named the ‘Find of the Tournament’ in 1985. He played over 20 rugby test matches until 2009. “For 10 years after that, I helped the sport informally in raising money, posing on the field, etc. It was in 2019 that I began to be seriously involved with the sport again,” he tells CE.
Rahul, who currently is the president of the Indian Rugby Football Union (IRFU), a.k.a Rugby India, is in Hyderabad for the weekend to kick off the 6th edition of the Sub Junior National Rugby Championships. Having played some of the biggest tournaments while also delivering some of his best performances on the big screen, we ask him how he juggled them all. “I played some serious matches during the busiest time of my film career. I did Mr & Mrs Iyer, Jhankaar Beats, Shaurya, Chameli, etc. But here’s what I did — I would check the rugby calendar, I would calculate the number of days I’d be on the field and the number of days it would take for me to heal from my injuries. It was only after that that I would give films my dates,” he says. Clearly, rugby is what he would choose over acting and filmmaking.
The sport is sure no gentleman’s game — it is rough and tough on the field. When asked how he managed to stay in the show business while playing the sport, Rahul says, “It’s not that I think I have a great face, but I did have two of my films delayed for having broken my nose. I’m glad they weren’t major enough to put me out of business. I remember a time when I’d go back to the dressing room after a shoot and my teammates were all roughing through to get to the field and I would take my time rubbing off my makeup in concentric circles. They’d stand there looking at me,” he laughs.
Not many know that Rahul was into cricket and boxing too — and was good at them all. He was also coached by cricketer Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi. “I did decently well in cricket — I opened the bowling for my team. I stopped growing taller after a point and realised there’s nothing much I could do with that height when it came to cricket. The angry kid that I was, who needed to vent, I was good at boxing too and played up to junior nations and won a silver. Somehow, after a point, rugby took centre stage.”
For the very many things he does, ask him what drives him to give them his all? He says it is his love for rugby and seeing it being played the way it should be. “It is so overwhelming to see the kids give their heart out to the game — that’s what makes my eyes light up.”
About his biggest dream, he says, “To see our kids represent India at the 2028 Olympics. I also want my kids from both my NGOs to be the greatest drivers of the new model of development in their homelands, driven by compassion.”