Rugby World Cup fans astonished as James Bond villain lifts lid on rugby career

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Spanish actor Javier Bardem has graced the big screen with iconic performances in James Bond and No Country for Old Men, but has since revealed that he grew up loving rugby and even played for the junior national team. Before pursuing a career that would see him become a starring man in Hollywood, Bardem opened up on being a promising prop.

Barden worked alongside Daniel Craig as villain Raoul Silva in Skyfall, but could have ended up gracing the turf in France this Autumn. He was in attendance during New Zealand’s Rugby World Cup semi-final win over Argentina, where he lifted the lid on his early days as a budding rugby star.

“I played for Spain,” Bardem explained to RugbyPass TV. “I started when I was nine years old, and I played until I was 23. I love it, it is my passion. I’m always saying that playing rugby in Spain is like being a bullfighter in Japan. It didn’t make any sense back then but now, thank God, there is a lot of support in Spain for rugby.”

Bardem revealed that he played in the front row, leaving many fans surprised at his rugby career. Reacting on X (formerly known as Twitter), as @AmosaDan wrote: “I already love him as an actor, now I respect him even more as a rugby fan/former player!”

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Their sentiments were echoed by @DrJSherrington who added: “Omg Javier Bardem played rugby for Spain!!!!! This pleases me greatly,” while @lukeyywhi similarly was overjoyed by the news, posting: “Just when you think you can’t love Javier Bardem anymore.”

Though the tournament organisers perhaps were wise not to get the actor to conduct the pre-match coin toss if they had watched the Coen Brothers’ western classic, he explained his role on the pitch as a Spanish junior player.

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“I was a prop, believe it or not, a small prop, number three (tighthead),” Bardem added. “My brother Carlos and I, we were called ‘Los Mendrugos’, which is the hard part of the bread. When I played, maybe if I was lucky I touched the ball three or four times.

“36 phases Ireland played at the end of the match [against New Zealand]! I was so nervous – ‘Don’t drop the ball!’ It was one of the most amazing rugby matches ever.”

Bardem also highlighted the respect element of the sport that has often been praised, as a reason behind his fandom. “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 continued.

“The ethics of rugby are amazing. I don’t like lately that people are whistling when the players are kicking. We are better than that. We have a lot of lessons to give to the kids, and one of the things I love about rugby is the ethics – respect the kicker.”

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