SOURCE: Play Rugby USA

November 30, 2009 12:25 ET

USA Rugby Partners With Warner Bros. to Promote Film About 1995 Rugby World Cup

BOULDER, CO--(Marketwire - November 30, 2009) - USA Rugby recently teamed up with Warner Bros. in an effort to promote the movie "Invictus" (PG-13), which will open nationwide on Dec. 11, to American rugby fans.

From director Clint Eastwood, "Invictus" tells the inspiring true story of how Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman) joined forces with the captain of South Africa's rugby team, Francois Pienaar (Matt Damon), to help unite their deeply divided country after the end of apartheid.

The film focuses on Mandela's successful effort to make South Africa the host of the 1995 Rugby World Cup, which Pienaar's underdog Sprinboks won in dramatic fashion against legendary winger Jonah Lomu and the New Zealand All Blacks. The moment was recently called one of the "Top Ten Sporting Moments that Shook the World" by Foreign Policy magazine.

The director and stars got serious about rugby while making the film and in order to be ready to portray a veteran rugby player, Damon got help from Pienaar and another star member of the 1995 Springboks, Chester Williams, who served as a coach for the onscreen rugby players.

Producer Lori McCreary attests, "Chester was a great technical advisor because he remembers every single play and where every person was. He was in a unique position in 1995, being the only black player on the Springboks. He became kind of a symbol at the time, which wasn't his choice because he really just wanted to play rugby."

"Chester wanted to make sure we played real rugby in the film," Eastwood adds. "He said, 'None of this fake movie stuff. We're going to play proper rugby,' as he put it. It's a very tough game, and the guys who play it are a special breed of cat."

"Clint actually became a big rugby fan," says producer Robert Lorenz. "When we were in South Africa, he would watch hours of rugby every night and come in the next morning and talk about the games. He enjoyed it quite a bit."

With nearly 85,000 registered members and a database of over 100,000 fans, USA Rugby, along with Play Rugby USA, are organizing numerous events around the "Invictus" opening in cities across the U.S. The events are not only engaging the rugby community to see the movie, but are also intended to get the local community involved with their youth rugby programs and inspire more young players to 'pick up the ball and run with it.'

"A movie such as 'Invictus' promotes exactly what the game of rugby is all about; rugby combined with local leaders can help transform lives and communities. USA Rugby and Play Rugby USA are very excited to be working with local communities all around the country to engage them in rugby clinics, tournaments and movie outings," said Mark Griffin, USA Rugby's Youth & High School Director and Founder of Play Rugby USA.

The partnership between USA Rugby and Warner Bros. also allows for the placement of the USA Rugby logo on the "Invictus" movie website and vice-versa. In addition, USA Rugby is hosting a contest centered around its 'I Play' promotional video that invites players to tell organizers why they play rugby by a short piece on www.rookierugbyclub.com. USA Rugby will choose 10 inspirational winners to receive a commemorative "Invictus" T-shirt.

More information on selected city-based events can be found on the website at www.usarugby.org/goto/invictus and all organizers are being encouraged to highlight their events on the recently upgraded Rookie Rugby Club events calendar as a platform to promote their efforts.

For more information on the movie, USA Rugby's partnership or the contest, please visit www.usarugby.org/goto/invictus or www.invictusmovie.com. For downloadable general press information and photos, please visit: http://press.warnerbros.com.

USA RUGBY, founded in 1975, is the national governing body for rugby and is a member of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and the International Rugby Board (IRB). The organization is responsible for the development of boys, girls, high school, collegiate and club rugby programs, as well as the nation's rugby coaches, referees, administrators and all of its national teams that represent the U.S. in international competitions. As part of this development, USA Rugby hosts a number of courses, clinics, National Championship events and international matches throughout the year. For more information, please visit www.usarugby.org.

Play Rugby USA, is youth development program and 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization that focuses on developing youth through rugby. Play Rugby USA places careful emphasis on having fun, improving fitness and developing life skills and communities through delivery of specially designed curriculum, coaching services and events. For more information, please visit www.playrugbyusa.com.

"Invictus," starring Oscar® winners Morgan Freeman ("Million Dollar Baby," "The Dark Knight") and Matt Damon ("Good Will Hunting," the "Bourne" franchise), is produced and directed by Clint Eastwood. The film was based off the screenplay by native South African writer Anthony Peckham, based upon the book Playing the Enemy, by John Carlin. Freeman, Tim Moore, and Spyglass Entertainment's Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum are the executive producers. Filming on "Invictus" was accomplished entirely on location in and around the cities of Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa.

Contact Information

  • USA Rugby Media Contact:
    USA Rugby
    Sara John
    Director of Communications & Public Relations
    303.539.0300
    sjohn@usarugby.org

    Play Rugby USA Media Contact:
    am:Mediaworks
    Alyssa Miller
    President
    646.360.2733
    alyssa@ammediaworks.com