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Showpiece Homes, Luxury Living… and Rugby

He is best known as an Academy Award-winning actor, James Bond villain and the husband of Penelope Cruz. What is less known is that Javier Bardem, who won the best supporting actor Oscar in 2008 (and world’s worst haircut award) for his role as a psychopath in No Country for Old Men, was also an accomplished rugby player in his younger days. He was introduced to the game at nine, represented Spain at under-18 level, and played for 16 years before quitting to avoid injury. Not from the game itself (his distinguishing broken nose was actually the result of an unprovoked attack in a bar) but from opponents reacting to his burgeoning fame as an actor (thanks to Jamón, Jamón) by tackling him heavily rather than playing the ball. He still loves the sport but (in a Daily Telegraph interview) he joked, 'I’ve always said that playing rugby in Spain is like being a bullfighter in Japan. No-one does it.” It’s no exaggeration. Even before becoming the 2008 and 2012 European football champions (they also won in 1964) and winning the 2010 World Cup, Spain’s sporting arenas were dominated by the round ball, with basketball the second most popular spectator sport, thanks to victory in the 2006 world championship and 2009 and 2011 EuroBasket triumphs (plus, last weekend, a third title). Many other sports take centre stage before rugby gets a peak into the limelight. Spain’s tennis stars (led by Rafael Nadal) have won the Davis Cup five times, seven different Spanish cyclists have triumphed in the Tour de France, Fernando Alonso was Formula 1 world champion in 2005 and 2006, and several rally drivers and motorcycle riders have achieved success in their respective world categories. Spain were world handball champions in 2005 and 2013, the country’s waterpolo team won gold at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, and Francisco Ochoa was the men’s slalom champion at the 1972 Winter Olympics. Even golf has managed to snare some TV time, originally thanks to the exhilarating exploits of Severiano Ballesteros and more recently with such stars as José María Olazábal and the Costa del Sol’s own Miguel Ángel Jiménez. But rugby? A respectable 50,000-plus registered players battle it out on rugby pitches around Spain but further development is hampered by the fact that Spain failed to qualify for the 2015 Rugby World Cup, currently underway in the UK. The country’s rugby team did qualify for the 1999 World Cup although, winless in three matches, they were unable to progress from the round-robin stage. These days the national team competes in the European Nations Cup (a second-tier competition for teams outside the Six Nations power grouping) and is ranked just outside the top 20 in the world. Where Spain has had some success is in the Sevens World Series, now established as one of the 15 core teams. The traditional rugby-playing areas in Spain are Madrid, Castilla y León (specifically Valladolid), the Basque Country and Cataluña, but the predominance of resident foreigners has boosted the game in beach resorts along the Mediterranean, including Marbella. These areas are also popular with top teams from Britain, Ireland and France seeking winter training venues with good weather and transport links. Marbella Rugby Club’s roots date to the late 1980s, when former Sevilla player Roberto Osborne Maestre was the driving force behind its creation in Sotogrande. In 1993, the club developed its own ground and facilities on the eastern outskirts of Marbella, near Los Monteros not far from where Newcastle United football club and Newcastle Falcons rugby club chairman Sir John Hall owned a holiday mansion at the time. [caption id="attachment_3769" align="alignright" width="300"] Rolls-Royce “Wraith – History of Rugby”[/caption] This area is also home to the Bahía de Marbella residential estate, one of the most coveted in the municipality, with its close proximity to the town centre, beach and nearby Río Real and Santa Clara golf clubs – and its stunning natural setting. For any home-buyers wanting to join this exclusive social and lifestyle set, the townhouse featured here (and excellently priced at €1,250,000) is just five minutes by car from all the main services and commercial outlets, has direct access to the beach, and offers spacious terraces and panoramic sea views. Even better with a Rolls-Royce parked outside near the rugby ground… Special Selections We appreciate your taking the time to read about this outstanding property but perhaps it is not exactly right for you? If not, we invite you to have a look at our other special selections for: La Zagaleta, Luxury Villas, Golf Properties, Seafront Properties, Apartments and Special Offers. Click on the category of your choice and follow the link. Also please feel free to roam around our website: www.villamarbellanow.com.