Japan’s famous Rugby World Cup win is coming to a screen near you | Daily News

Japan’s famous Rugby World Cup win is coming to a screen near you

The exploits of Dan Carter have been detailed in a film.
The exploits of Dan Carter have been detailed in a film.

For years it was widely assumed rugby would not translate easily to stage and screen. With the odd exception – Up ’n’ Under, Stand Up and Fight and Invictus, the Clint Eastwood directed film of South Africa’s extraordinary 1995 Rugby World Cup triumph starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon – few have felt the need to apply theatrical war paint to help the game woo a wider audience.

Suddenly all that is changing. Entering stage left are not just one or two but three intriguing rugby related productions, each hoping to capitalise on the extra interest set to be generated by the World Cup in Japan this month.

What tales they are. Few sports have ever delivered a more jaw-dropping upset than Japan achieved at South Africa’s expense four years ago this month. The tale of the Brave Blossoms’ stunning 34-32 pool win against the Springboks is now the subject of a soon-to-be-released movie entitled The Brighton Miracle, with the highly regarded New Zealand actor Temuera Morrison playing Eddie Jones.

Give or take the Kiwi twang in Morrison/Jones’s accent in the promotional trailers, the Once Were Warriors and Star Wars actor has clearly worked hard to channel his inner Eddie, even down to the latter’s preferred tie and jumper combo. At least one former Wallaby has also praised his interpretation of Jones’s “stink eye” which, to the uninitiated, is the hard stare reserved for any player, opposing coach or unfortunate critic who displeases him.

As recently as a couple of weeks ago Jones had not seen the finished version. “I heard he was not the most likeable chap but that’s what you get if you want to attain some of these levels of perfection,” Morrison told the Japan Times last week. “That’s what you’ve got to be. Normally I play characters that come from outer space but this one is a real-deal person.”

If the writer/director, Max Mannix, is to be believed, however, the film is essentially “about mindset change and having the courage to be yourself”. Whether it fills the multiplexes of southern Africa remains to be seen but it will surely be huge in Japan.

For anyone who witnessed the Brighton shock first hand, the story of how a great sporting upset came to pass on England’s south coast is truly an end-of-the-pier show not to be missed.

Kiwis of a certain vintage will also be tempted to wallow in Dan Carter: A Perfect 10 that opened in New Zealand last week. We are not talking here about another sequel to Get Carter, the 1971 gangster thriller starring Michael Caine, but the slightly less gritty account of how a young lad from Southbridge on New Zealand’s south island grew up to be the greatest fly-half of his generation. They might have been better off simply sticking on a replay of the second Test between the All Blacks and the British & Irish Lions in Wellington in 2005 when Carter displayed all the mastery of a latter day Barry John and gave perhaps the supreme all-round performance by a No 10 in the modern era.

Carter was glorious to behold in his pomp, if slightly less compelling behind a microphone. Had the film-makers chosen instead to fly to Wales and make Andy Powell: The Movie they would have shattered all box office records.

That said, it pays to remember that not everything good is judged by bums on seats, increased popcorn sales or sheer weight of internet hits. It is entirely possible, for example, that a new play by my esteemed Scottish rugby writing colleague Rob Robertson is not instantly destined to storm Broadway nor generate a Hamilton style frenzy at the box office in Hawick when it is performed next week.

Then again, who knows? Robertson has picked a quite wonderful subject for his latest work – namely the late, great Bill McLaren. Until his retirement from commentating in 2002 McLaren was the undisputed Voice of Rugby but there was much, much more to him than that. A devoted family man, he endured a tough war, subsequently nearly died of tuberculosis, lost a daughter to cancer and, as a teacher, taught generations of Borders kids to make the best of themselves.

“It really is an amazing story,” says his grandson Rory Lawson, the former Scotland scrum-half, hopeful that a wider audience will once again be inspired by McLaren. “The youngsters of today have so much choice about what they do.”

– theguardian


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