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Nelson Mandela, in his first term as the South African President, initiates a unique venture to unite the apartheid-torn land: enlist the national rugby team on a mission to win the 1995 Rugby World Cup.



(screenplay), (book)
2,967 ( 271)
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 10 wins & 33 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Tony Kgoroge ...
Patrick Mofokeng ...
Matt Stern ...
Marguerite Wheatley ...
Sibongile Nojila ...
Shakes Myeko ...
Louis Minnaar ...
Springbok Coach (as Louis Minaar)


The film tells the inspiring true story of how Nelson Mandela joined forces with the captain of South Africa's rugby team to help unite their country. Newly elected President Mandela knows his nation remains racially and economically divided in the wake of apartheid. Believing he can bring his people together through the universal language of sport, Mandela rallies South Africa's rugby team as they make their historic run to the 1995 Rugby World Cup Championship match. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


He was a prisoner who became a president. To unite his country, he asked one man to do the impossible. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for brief strong language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:




Release Date:

11 December 2009 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Human Factor  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$60,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$8,611,147 (USA) (11 December 2009)


$37,479,778 (USA) (19 March 2010)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The screenplay for this film was featured in the 2007 Blacklist; a list of the "most liked" unmade scripts of the year. See more »


In the closeups of President Nelson Mandela during the final game, you can see the reflection of the empty grandstands (red) in his sunglasses, rather than the green and yellow tinged full stands that are shown in the crowd shots. See more »


[first lines]
High School Boy: [seeing passing motorcade] Who is it, sir?
High School Coach: It's the terrorist Mandela, they let him out. Remember this day boys, this is the day our country went to the dogs.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Warner Bros.' logo from 1994 is used for both the opening and ending of the movie in keeping with the time period of the film. See more »


Featured in Golden Globes Red Carpet Live (2010) See more »


Arranged by Gobingca George Mxadana
Performed by Overtone
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Just one great film
11 December 2009 | by (Sacramento, CA) – See all my reviews

People forget that Nelson Mandela came to power at a time when his country was bitterly divided. There was the bitter experience that white South Africans saw in their neighboring countries,i.e., Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe and other nations where the White colonialist had been replaced by Black African politicians and a stable government had been replaced by corrupt, self-serving regimes where those in power feathered their nests after seizing the assets of their former White citizens and placed all their friends in positions of authority with the result of the country going to the dogs. The scene where the Afrikaaner newspaper remarks, "Mendela can get elected but can he run a country," and the superb Morgan Freeman remarks to his bodyguard that the headline raises a good point.

In a sense, this film is about Mandela. The rugby team becomes a metaphor of what he faced when ascending to the presidency, a nation divided. Noting that the Black South Africans were cheering for the opposition in the face of the old Apartheid guard whose love of rugby unified them. It's easy to forget that there was a great division among White South Africans, i.e., the descendants of the Boers, Afrikaaners, and the rest. There was even a middle ground with the "Coloreds," Asian South Africans, being caught between these two worlds and there were bitter rivalries among the competing African political interest groups as well.

Mandela's focus on reviving the national rugby team and making it a symbol of a new united nation homes in on the role of Matt Damon, an Afrikaaner who's the captain of the team. Francois is the catalyst that makes this story work and Damon, the rugged Mick from Boston, does a fantastic job showing the transition from hopelessness to hope as many White South Africans felt at that time. The wonderful thing about this film is its touching on all the levels. It goes beyond being merely the story of a single man or group of men. Sure, we love a "feel good" movie and of course we love an "underdog can win" flick, but this film works works because its about people working together to rebuild something new for everybody.

The film reeks with great moments: Pienaar visiting the cell where Mandela spent more than 20 years of his life, thinking and planning; The New Zealand Rugby team doing their Maori threat dance before the match; the jet buzzing the field before the game-- and so on. See it. Enjoy it. And, don't forget, it's a bit of history. Romanticized? Somewhat. Mandela wasn't able to solve all of South Africa's big problems, but he did one bang-up job for the Springboks.

92 of 116 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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The New Zealand team was poisoned before the final crappydoo
Reasons why I gave this a 5 gav_stok
An embarrassment for all involved irotas78
what do rugby fans sing in stands? Caranfiniel
This film made rugby look boring and soft jamessharp89
Why is an Afrikaaner named... erez-yam
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