Pienaar says goodbye after 20 years

Henry

Ruan Pienaar, one of South Africa’s most respected scrum-halfs, plays in his last match for the Cheetahs in the South African Cup against Griquas on Friday.

The 40-year-old player played his first match for the Free Staters on 14 February 2004 in a friendly match against the Western Province at Shimla Park – the upcoming farewell match against the Peacock Blues will also be decided at Shimla Park.

Pienaar played his high school rugby for Gray College and was in action for the Free Staters’ Cravenweek team in 2002.

He has a series of golden moments that he will cherish – the biggest was of course the Rugby World Cup in 2007.

“Wow! I have quite a few memories, especially the British and Irish Lions and then of course my debut for the Boks,” he said today.

Pienaar is a Springbok veteran with 88 Test caps to his name. The scrumhalf was born and raised in Bloemfontein and is the son of Free State rugby legend Gysie Pienaar. His father also ran for the Boks.

The scrum-half played in 32 Currie Cup and 67 Super Rugby games for the Sharks in Durban. In 2010 he joined Ulster in Ireland and played in 141 matches with a whopping 877 points to his name.

In 2017 he ran for Montpellier in France, where Freestaters such as Jan Serfontein, Frans Steyn, Johan Goosen and Henry Immelman were his teammates.

Pienaar made his debut for the Springboks in the 2006 Tri-Nations series against New Zealand.

On 25 July 2009, he served at flyhalf for the Springboks in their 28-19 victory over the All Blacks in Bloemfontein.

After all these years of rugby, a match day is not something he will simply miss.

“I’m so nervous, but as soon as the whistle blows for the kick-off for the game, I’m more at ease.”

As far as opponents are concerned, he has an appreciation for the game of France’s Antoine Dupont and New Zealand’s Aaron Cruden.

Pienaar says he is very blessed to still be playing rugby at his age and privileged to be part of the Cheetahs group.

“This is an incredible group of players and I will miss the game terribly – especially during training and in the dressing rooms.”

Frans Steyn and Pienaar were roommates on their first Bok Tour.

“Friday is in a way a sad day for Free State Rugby. Ruan is an incredible player and person,” said Steyn.

These days Steyn is the Free Staters’ director of rugby and he believes that he will always remember Pienaar for his competitive nature.

“When I dried on the field, Ruan was there to give me advice.”

At least Pienaar will still be seen in the rugby circles as u.21 coach with the Cheetahs.

“I still have a lot to learn, but one thing I want to instill among the youngsters is to work hard for what you believe in. If the chance presents itself, you have to grab it with both hands,” concluded the legendary scrumhalf.

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A post shared by Ruan Pienaar (@ruan_pienaar9)

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A post shared by Ruan Pienaar (@ruan_pienaar9)