Trust these people

The history of the Italian national rugby team that defied Apartheid

Type: Documentary

Lenght: 9o’

Genre: Historical / Sports / Social Issue

Film Director: Francesco Catarinolo

Production: Studio Pandora

Authors: Massimo Calandri, Francesco Catarinolo

Based on a Book: Non puoi fidarti di gente così


South Africa 1973, there’s apartheid. Many nations boycott a racist country. Italy’s national Olympic committee opposes the tour, but Rugby federation finds a solution: play a match with Leopards, the South Africa’s black selection. However this condition, several national team players will boycott and stay in Italy.
The South Africans don’t trust the Italians; they consider them frail, undisciplined, and Catholic, but they have no other option.
The Italian players initially motivated only by the opportunity to meet the rugby world champions, ended up breaking down some of society’s taboos and made a contribution to the fight against racism. During the journey, Italian players repeatedly risk arrest. Perhaps the most important action of the Italian team is during the third time, after the match with Leopards, they forced the South African federation to allow that black players and white players dined at the same table.

Feature Documentary – 9o’

Italian, English, Afrikaans

Studio Pandora

Francesco Catarinolo

Italy, South Africa




After the Covid pandemy I needed to do a sport to help me regain focus and stimulation. By chance a colleague played Rugby, I decided to give it a try. It was love at first sight!
The project brings together different languages and narrative tools proper to the documentary genre. Many works have inspired me, from the beautiful documentary “We Must Go” by Dave LaMattina, which chronicles the journey of the Egyptian national soccer team in their struggle to reach the World Cup. The docuseries “Losers” from Netflix showing 8 stories of sportsmen who rise up after a big defeat. Human redemption is also an important part of the project.
The player interviews will be mixed with photographic archives and a super 8 video shot by one of the coaches of the national rugby team, Gigi Savoia, a fan of home movies.
There will also be a contamination with the world of animation to bring to light all those anecdotes we do not have archives of. A very powerful reference is the award-winning “Flee”.