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Nelson Mandela congratulates the Springboks captain for winning the World Cup

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A True Story of RWC 1995 Final

It’s all about rugby, patriotism, and the Rugby World Cup. As the world gears up to the 10th edition of Rugby World Cup 2023 in France, let us look back in 1995, a true story of Springboks and their fight against the odd.

An inspiring true story of how Nelson Mandela joined forces with the captain of South Africa’s Springboks to help unite their country. Newly elected President Nelson Mandela knows his nation remains racially and economically divided during apartheid.

Believing he can bring his people together through sport, Mandela inspires South Africa’s underdog rugby team as they make an unlikely run to the Rugby World Cup 1995.

Invictus was released in 2009 based on real story of Springboks in Rugby World Cup 1995. Directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela and Matt Damon as Francois Pienaar (Springboks Captain), Invictus is regarded as one of the best rugby themed film so far.

Invictus movie poster

Nelson Mandela’s presidency faces many challenges in the post-Apartheid era, including poverty and crime, and he is concerned about racial divisions between black and white South Africans, which could lead to violence.

While attending a game between the Springboks and England, Mandela realizes that some black people in the stadium are cheering for England, and not for South Africa, as the mostly-white Springboks represent prejudice and apartheid in their minds.

Knowing that South Africa is set to host the 1995 Rugby World Cup, Mandela holds a meeting with the South African Sports Committee to support the Springboks. He then meets with the captain of Springboks, Francois Pienaar (Matt Damon), and implies that a Springboks success in the Rugby World Cup will unite and inspire the nation. Mandela shares with Francois a British poem titled “Invictus”, that had inspired him during his 27 years in prison.

As for many South Africans, doubt that rugby will unite a nation torn apart by nearly 50 years of racial tensions, and for many black people, the Springboks symbolize white supremacy. President Mandela and Pienaar, however, stand firmly behind their theory that the game will successfully unite the country.

Official trailer of Invictus

During the opening games, support for the Springboks begins to grow among the black population. By the second game, the whole country comes together to support the Springboks.

The Springboks defeat one of their arch-rivals; Australia, the defending champions in their opening match. They then continue to beat France in heavy rain to advance to the final against the New Zealand All Blacks.

Supported by a large home crowd of all races at Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg, Pienaar motivates his teammates for the final. Just before the match, a South African Airways Boeing 747-200 jetliner flies over the stadium with the message “Good Luck Bokke” painted on the undersides of the plane’s wings. Mandela arrives onto the field before the match wearing a Springbok cap and a replica of Pienaar’s number 6 jersey.

The Springboks complete their campaign in Rugby World Cup by beating the All Blacks 15–12 in extra time, thanks to a drop goal from fly-half Joel Stransky. Mandela and Pienaar meet on the field together to celebrate the unexpected victory, and Mandela hands Pienaar the William Webb Ellis Cup, proving that the Springboks are indeed rugby world champions.

Mandela’s car then drives away in the traffic-jammed streets leaving the stadium. As Mandela watches South Africans celebrating together in the street from his car, his voice is heard reciting “Invictus” again.

Watch Invictus on Netflix now!

Get local and international rugby updates with Ragbi.MY monthly magazine. Available in printed copies and e-magazine, Ragbi.MY is Malaysia’s first magazine developed by hardcore rugby enthusiasts. Subscribe now.

Ragbi.MY 3rd issue (April 2020)

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