Rahul Bose who took over as the president of the Indian Rugby Football Union last year has unveiled plans to take Indian rugby forward and tackle the challenges that ail the sport in the country.
Actor Rahul Bose who took over as the president of the Indian Rugby Football Union last year has plans to take Indian rugby forward.
Before he turned to the silver screen Rahul had played rugby and represented India in 17 internationals. But those 17 internationals were spread over a decade. This itself is enough to highlight the state of Rugby in India.
Maybe that is why when Bose was addressing a media gathering in Mumbai on Wednesday, he called the sport 'tiny'. Which is contrary to what the numbers tell. A 2018 child fund rugby report tells that rugby is played in more than 120 countries with over 8 million rugby players registered in competitions across Europe, Africa, the Americas and the Asia-Pacific.
According to Bose only around 300 of India’s approximately 730 districts play rugby. A lot of talent is going untapped and the Indian Rugby Football Union has a huge challenge ahead to tackle. It is almost like developing the sport from scratch. There is no denying that money helps a sport grow. Hence Bose emphasised 'partnerships' as Capgemini has come on board with Indian Rugby Football Union to back the sport financially and support India's Rugby 7s teams.
Interestingly, Capgemini has its headquarters in France, the country which is going to host the next year's Rugby World Cup.
Although Ashwin Yardi, CEO of Capgemini, India did not reveal the finer details of the company's association with the Indian Rugby Football Union, but he has promised to strengthen the company's commitment to backing the sport with money, knowledge and technology.
For Bose, the faith that the IT services and consulting giant has shown in the sport, ‘means a lot’ and he cannot be ‘thankful enough’.
The money that Capgemini will pump into rugby will help the sport grow right from the grassroots to the high-performance centres.
Bose mentioned the tribal people in Telangana with whom the Indian Rugby Football Union is working closely to nurture talent, as an example of the grassroots-level work that the country's top rugby body is doing. The plan is to scale up such work. Bose said that the Indian Rugby Football Union will soon unroll a 20-state grassroots level plan.
Keeping the rugby players at the heart of its plans, Bose said that for the first time in the history of Indian rugby the players selected for the national squads will be paid.
It would help players like Prince Khatri, the captain of India's men's rugby team. Khatri runs a gym in Delhi and does several other chores, along with playing the sport, to earn his livelihood.
The players who will be selected for the national camps will be for the first time called for a duration of 50 to 60 days and will be paid somewhere around Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 60,000 for their efforts. Bose believes it is "not much". In future, Bose hopes that the money trickles down to the state players too. With confidence, Bose said, "every single rupee that this federation gets will be spent on the players."
Last year the Indian Rugby partnered with the government of Odisha and the Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KIIT). Bose now calls KIIT as the "home of Indian rugby". The high-performance centre in Odisha has ‘everything’.
The aim is to make incremental gains. Bose wants the men's and the women's national teams to first become "top six or top seven" in the ranking and "then work your way into top three" to finally play the "Olympic qualifiers".
Bose's plans include tackling the issues of the men's team and the women's team separately.
But for all the ambitious plans and investments, Bose still holds himself back as he wants results. Because in the end, it is the results that matter!
For that, we have to wait.
(Edited by : Sudarsanan Mani)