x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Pienaar surprised by film portrayal of World Cup win

The former South Africa rugby captain Francois Pienaar is surprised that his country's 1995 World Cup win is still being recalled so clearly.

Matt Damon, right, the Hollywood actor with Francoise Pienaar who is portrayed in the film <i>Invictus</i>.
Matt Damon, right, the Hollywood actor with Francoise Pienaar who is portrayed in the film Invictus.

LONDON // The former South Africa rugby captain Francois Pienaar is surprised that his country's 1995 World Cup win is still being recalled so clearly. The victory marked his country drawing a line under the dark days of apartheid, with the iconic president Nelson Mandela present at Ellis Park in Johannesburg as the Springboks defeated the might of New Zealand 15-12 after extra-time. "We were not initially aware of how important the tournament was politically," he said. "The World cup was very important for us to participate in, and we had a very good team so we thought we had an opportunity to win it." The win has now been turned into a Hollywood film, titled Invictus, with the actor Matt Damon playing Pienaar. Speaking at the British premiere, he admitted it was weird to watch himself being portrayed on a cinema screen. "I always knew it was a special story and it was a story that needed to be told," he said. "I never thought it would be told on such a big scale. I wouldn't rate Damon that high in rugby skills but as a bloke he gets full marks. "He's just a normal bloke. What was very important for him was the accent, I've got a devilishly difficulty accent being an Afrikaans speaking guy."

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