Javier Bardem And His Unexpected Love for Rugby

In the world of Hollywood glamor and red carpet events, one wouldn’t immediately associate actors with the muddy, physical world of rugby. However, a surprise appearance at the recent Rugby World Cup by Javier Bardem has made a few fans look twice. So let’s dig deeper into an unexpected chapter of the A-lister’s life that predates his iconic roles in James Bond and No Country for Old Men.

Before becoming a notorious James Bond villain, Bardem was a promising rugby player who represented Spain on the international stage. The revelation came to light as he shared his passion for the sport with RugbyPass TV during the Rugby World Cup France 2023 semi-final match between Argentina and New Zealand.

What has Javier Bardem Said?

Bardem’s journey into rugby began at the tender age of nine, and he continued to play into his early 20s. “I played for Spain. I love it; it is my passion,” Bardem enthusiastically revealed, painting a picture of an aspiring young actor grappling with the physical demands of the rugby field.

However, it may surprise many to learn Bardem’s on-field position – a tighthead prop. This is at the vanguard of the scrum, and we doubt he would have had a stunt double here! Alongside his brother Carlos, they were affectionately known as ‘Los mendrugos,’ a moniker that means the hard part of the bread. The Bardem brothers would drop this title when they made their way into acting, however.

The humour wasn’t lost on Javier as he drew a comparison between the risks of facing a 140-kilo opponent on the field and the relative safety of a film set. And despite ending his rugby journey ending at the age of 23, his attendance at rugby fixtures like the recent Rugby World Cup matches shows his enduring love and respect for the game has not waned: “It’s my favourite sport of them all because of the ethics, because of the union of the team, because of the respect to the fellow players and the referees.”

He made the comparison that playing rugby in Spain was akin to being a bullfighter in Japan. And, despite the initial lack of recognition for rugby in Spain, Bardem expressed gratitude for the growing support it has garnered in recent times. Rugby has come a long way in Spain.

The History of Spanish Rugby

A quick history lesson shows that rugby became prevalent in Spain in the early 1900s, with early challenges during the Spanish Civil War slowing its progress. After World War I, the sport regained momentum, and the Spanish Rugby Federation was established in 1923. Despite historical setbacks, rugby developed in regions like Madrid, Valladolid, Basque Country, and Catalonia.

Spain’s national team, ranking 18th globally, arguably peaked in 1999 when they qualified for that year’s Rugby World Cup. However, they continue to compete and have success in the Rugby Europe Championship. The sport’s popularity has grown, with over 37,000 registered players in 332 clubs as of 2019, and recent events, like the Copa del Rey de Rugby final, suggest it is only going to get bigger and bigger.

Rugby Fans and Javier Bardem: A Love Story

Fans and followers took to social media to express their newfound respect for Bardem as a rugby enthusiast, with many expressing joy and surprise at this unexpected facet of his life. The revelation not only adds a fascinating layer to Bardem’s multifaceted personality but also serves as a reminder that passions and pursuits can take unexpected and diverse forms, even for those gracing the silver screen.


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