It is the sporting but above all human adventure undertaken half a century ago (49 years, to be exact) by a slightly sui generis blue group, because then the national team was almost pure amateurism and among other things they came out of a recent defeat with Portugal.
This is the heart of “You can’t trust people like that”, the book by Massimo Calandri (Mondadori) where rugby tells a story that goes beyond the boundaries of the sporting event.
It happens that South Africa and Rhodesia – at that time at the lowest point of apartheid (Mandela in jail, the Sharpeville massacre) – are boycotted from all over the world, because when the Springboks go to play outside, riots break out with thousands of arrests – they try desperately to get some team to come to them by paying all the expenses, but no one accepts.
Nobody except Italy, which leaves practically secretly. The boys literally make a journey to the other side of the world: on the pitch and above all outside, they discover its violence and extraordinary beauty. Nine games and only one victory, with South Africa. The last game, the hardest, with the Transvaal, our team deserve to win but they are robbed – by the admission of the Boer journalists themselves – by the referee.