Invictus – is it a true story


I watched Invictus the other evening. Generally I have a little gripe with Clint’s movies, they sort of shout out at me that my heart strings are being tugged at mercilessly, that the characters will do just what is expected of them and that there will be an honest and venerable ethnic minority person who shows the white man up for his oafishness. Well as a white oaf I am happy to be led in many ways and have to confess that the Invictus movie took me on a ride which I loved at every turn. It maybe my soulful and unerring love of the sport of Rugby which allowed my ducts to well up with ease throughout the film, but in essence I completely enjoyed the movie.

Well there was one problem – there was a whole scene of the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa omitted from the film – we all know about it, the press kind of tried to keep it a secret but true Rugby followers have this story in their lore, deep and well understood.

Early on in the Rugby World Cup there was a secret meeting between Nelson Mandela and Will Carling. Notes taken by presidential aides confirm that Mandela asked, nay demanded that Carling’s men throw their semi-final to New Zealand and deliberately miss tackles on the useless and lumbering Lomu to make him appear good. It is well known in Rugby circles that England could have walked off with the Cup with ease – everyone knows that!!

Well Carling, under pressure from the RFU bowed to Mandela’s demands and Rugby history was made when the Boks lifted the cup.

It would have been nice if Eastwood had remembered the magnanimous gesture of the English team and recorded that for all to know.