Invictus

It’s Rugby World Cup time down-under, and the Springboks are once again attempting to bludgeon their rivals into submission. I never quite know who to support here, being English AND South African, or Irish-Welsh-Scottish ancestry, with dollops of emigration to Argentina, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the United States along the way. And I even have an unlikely fondness for the beloved Republic of Georgia. (I was going to call them minnows, but have you seen the size of their scrum? Anyway.) About the only team in the competition I don’t have any kind of tie to is Japan, and it’s very difficult to dislike Japanese at the best of times.

Anyway, in honor of the tournament, I’ve spent my non-game-watching hours catching up on the rugby movies that I suppose inevitably emerged in the run up to the event. The biggie of course is Invictus, Clint Eastwood’s movie about the 1995 event that took place in South Africa and (allegedly, at the design of Madiba himself) resulted in the first manifestation of a united Rainbow Nation. It really focuses on how a bunch of good-looking but arrogant white guys learn discipline and humility through the beautiful game. Matt Damon plays the Springbok captain Francois Pienaar, and he does quite well with the accent.

Forever Strong picks up the meme: a good-looking but arrogant white guy learns discipline and humility through the beautiful game. Here a high-school rugby star in the US is plucked from reform school to join an elite rugby team. It’s pretty well made and well acted and not half as bad as it sounds.

Play On is the least polished of the three films, it’s somewhat inconsistent, but it does have the odd flash of brilliance. It’s about, yep, you guessed it, a good looking but arrogant white guy who learns discipline and humility through his participation in a rugby squad. He also reconciles with his Dad – his real-life dad, so it turns out. I’m quietly impressed that the Scottish lead is actually an Australian who lives in LA.

Anyway, enough of the movie watching, it’s back to the real thing.