Rugby’s greatest prize, the Webb Ellis Cup, visited one of India’s oldest rugby clubs – Bombay Gymkhana – today as part of the Rugby World Cup 2019 Trophy Tour aiming to engage and excite new and existing rugby fans and players.
Bringing some Bollywood sparkle to the event, Sidharth Malhotra, joined former Rugby India International player, actor and director Rahul Bose; World Rugby CEO, Brett Gosper; Asia Rugby President, Aga Hussain and Rugby India General Secretary, Mahesh Mathai to celebrate the game ahead of Japan 2019.
Bollywood superstar Sidharth Malhotra, a former Delhi Hurricanes rugby player and fan of the game said (speaking to World rugby TV), “It feels amazing for the Rugby World Cup to be here and I’m very excited to have it on Indian soil for the first time. I played rugby when I was younger and think it is one of the best sports that teaches you discipline, fitness and controlled aggression.
“It’s a great initiative to bring the Webb Ellis Cup to a country where rugby is quite new and needs a little push. I’m looking forward to seeing all the children get inspired and pick up the sport and hopefully play for India in future. It is my dream is to see India play at the Rugby World Cup one day.”
Also joining the event was Rugby India 7s captain, Gautam Dagar; Rugby India Women’s 7s captain Neha Pardeshi and Rugby India Women’s 15s captain, Vahbiz Bharucha. The players joined in the festivities at Bombay Gymkhana, delivering a rugby training session for local players with Sidharth Malhotra and Rahul Bose also taking part.
Speaking at the event World Rugby CEO, Brett Gosper, said, “It has been fantastic to witness the huge levels of excitement, enthusiasm and curiosity that have accompanied the Webb Ellis Cup on every stop of the Rugby World Cup Trophy Tour in India over the past week and especially today at the Bombay Gymkhana club which has such a famous rugby history.
“With the support of the Indian Sports Minister, the well-executed programme of activities by our colleagues at Asia Rugby and Rugby India, together with a sprinkling of Bollywood stardust from famous actors passionate about the game, it has been a very productive visit to Delhi and Mumbai and a real sense of momentum is building towards the first Rugby World Cup to be held in Asia next year. I am certain there is a very bright future ahead for Indian rugby.”
Following a formal welcome by the honourable Sports Minister of India, Col. Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore in Delhi on Monday, the Trophy Tour has spent the week in India and reached another of the seven wonders of the world; the Taj Mahal. Visited by some of the world’s most influential leaders and high-profile figures, the Webb Ellis Cup is one of few sports trophies to be pictured at the iconic location in India.
The Trophy Tour also visited one of the best-preserved architectural sites in Delhi, the Red Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage listed site which traces its roots back to the middle of the 17th century, as well as the famous memorial, India Gate.