Rugby union – commonly referred to as just rugby, or union, and in New Zealand occasionally as football or footy – is a code of football. Rugby union is a contact sport played by teams with fifteen players. The name is derived from the name of the game's original governing body, the Rugby Football Union, with the suffix union used to differentiate it from other codes of rugby football. The game developed from the variant of football at played Rugby school in England. The crucial differences from association football are that in rugby the ball is a prolate spheroid instead of a sphere, and that the players are allowed to pick the ball up and run with it. The players are also allowed to throw the ball from player to player, but are not allowed to throw it forward – the ball must only be passed sideways or backward.
The game has established itself as a major global sport, and is especially popular in New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Wales, England, Ireland, Scotland, France, Australia, Argentina and South Africa. Rugby is also gaining popularity in Italy, which was accepted into the Six Nations Championship in 2000, and Japan. Rugby is the most popular team sport in Georgia and is popular in Romania, Namibia, the United States of America and Canada.
While Mandela attends a game of the Springboks, the country's rugby union team. Blacks in the stadium cheer against their home squad, as the Springboks (their history, players and even their colours) represent prejudice and apartheid in their mind. Knowing that South Africa is set to host the 1995 Rugby World Cup in one year's time, Mandela convinces the South African rugby board to keep the Springbok team, name and colours the same. He then meets with Springboks captain François Pienaar (Matt Damon). Though Mandela never verbalizes his true meaning during their meeting, Pienaar understands the message below the surface: if the Springboks can gain the support of black South Africans and succeed in the upcoming World Cup, the country will be unified and inspired. Mandela also shares with Pienaar that a poem, Invictus, had been inspiring to him during his time in prison, helping him to "stand when all he wanted to do was lie down". (More...)
David "Darkie" Bedell-Sivright (1880 – 1915) was a rugby union forward who captained both Scotland and the British Isles. Educated at Fettes College, Bedell-Sivright studied at Cambridge University and played for them in four Varsity Matches. He was selected for Scotland in 1900, and after playing in all of Scotland's Home Nations Championship matches between 1901 and 1903, he toured South Africa with the British Isles side in 1903. He played 12 matches, but did not play any test matches due to injury. The next year Bedell-Sivright was appointed captain for the British Isles team that toured Australia and New Zealand. Due to a broken leg he played only one test on tour. During the tour Bedell-Sivright pulled the British team from the field for after disputing the referee's decision to send-off teammate Denys Dobson. Eventually Bedell-Sivright allowed his side to resume play, but without Dobson. Bedell-Sivright briefly settled in Australia, before returning to Scotland to study medicine. He captained his country against the touring New Zealanders in 1905, and in 1906 helped Scotland defeat South Africa. A surgeon by profession, he joined the Royal Navy during the First World War, and died on active service during the Gallipoli Campaign. Bedell-Sivright was an aggressive and hard player, as well as a ferocious competitor. He has been inducted into the Scottish Rugby and IRB Halls of Fame.