Ruan Pienaar (born 10 March 1984 in Bloemfontein) is a South African rugby union player who plays either as a scrum-half or as a fly-half for the Cheetahs in Pro14 rugby and the Free State Cheetahs in the Currie Cup.
Ruan Pienaar in 2014
|Date of birth||10 March 1984|
|Place of birth||Bloemfontein, South Africa|
|Height||1.87 m (6 ft 1 1⁄2 in)|
|Weight||92 kg (203 lb)|
|Rugby union career|
He is the son of former Springbok fullback Gysie Pienaar. Ruan is regarded as a very skilful rugby player. Besides being able to pass well, he can kick with both feet, and his vision and running style moved former Springbok coach Jake White to compare him with Australian fly-half Stephen Larkham.
Pienaar has been part of u19 (2003), u21 (2005) and senior IRB World Cup (2007) winning squads. He also won the Currie Cup in 2008 and 2019.
Pienaar made his debut for the Springboks in the 2006 Tri-Nations against New Zealand and was a member of the successful 2007 World Cup squad. As he did not play club rugby in South Africa since June 2010 it seemed unlikely that he would be called up again to play for the national team. SARU has a policy of selecting foreign based players in exceptional circumstances only. However, on 20 June 2011 it was reported that Pienaar had been named in South Africa's 49-Man World Cup preliminary training squad. Pienaar has been an ever present in South Africa squads ever since.
On 27 May 2010 Ulster announced that they had signed the player on a two-year contract. Pienaar would play in the Celtic League and Heineken Cup along with fellow Springboks Johann Muller, Robbie Diack, Pedrie Wannenburg and BJ Botha at the Belfast based side. He made his Magners League debut on 1 October, scoring all of Ulster's 19 points in their victory over Glasgow Warriors. Pienaar was named at scrum half in the Magners League Team of the Year for the 2010/11 season and also scooped the Magners League player of the Year award which was voted for by his peers.
Pienaar signed a two-year extension to his Ulster contract during this time. Pienaar was again selected at scrum half for the RaboDirect Pro12 Dream Team for the 2011/12 season and was also named captain of the side. In 2012 Pienaar played in the Heineken Cup Final, scoring 9 points in the 42-14 defeat to Leinster. In 2013 he played in the Pro 12 Final, scoring all of Ulster's 18 points in the 24-18 loss to Leinster.
In October 2013 despite strong media reports linking him with Toulon, Pienaar signed a new 3-year extension to his Ulster contract keeping him in Belfast until the end of the 2016/17 season. No further contracts were offered due to the IRFU succession policy, limiting all four of the provinces to one foreign player per position. Pienaar's position at Ulster was untenable once Leinster signed a half back from New Zealander. Since the 2017/18 season he has played at Montpellier.
Pienaar is a devout Christian, saying “I have always believed, with my Christianity, that there’s so much more to life than rugby,” and “Being here gives me an enormous sense of purpose. I am not just here for rugby, I’m here to touch lives.” He is the co-founder of a Bible study group for rugby players in South Africa. While playing for Ulster regularly attended the Christian Fellowship Church on the Belmont Road in Belfast.
- In addition to playing in test matches, Pienaar featured in six non-test matches for South Africa. Five of these were international tour matches played between 2006 and 2009, and in 2014 and 2015, he played in matches against a World XV in Cape Town. These matches have an equivalent status to international tour matches, but were played on home soil.
- South African Rugby Annual 2016. South African Rugby Union. 2016. p. 74. ISBN 978-0-620-69290-8.
- South African Rugby Annual 2015. South African Rugby Union. 2015. p. 104. ISBN 978-0-620-62087-1.
- South African Rugby Annual 2016. South African Rugby Union. 2016. pp. 124–125. ISBN 978-0-620-69290-8.
- "Like father, like son". ESPN Scrum. 10 June 2010.
- "Is Ruan Pienaar the next Larkham?". Planet-Rugby.com. Archived from the original on 17 August 2007. Retrieved 13 February 2008.
- "South Africa name 49 World Cup hopefuls". bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 20 June 2011.
- "Ulster announce Ruan Pienaar signing". RTÉ Sport. Raidió Teilifís Éireann. 27 May 2010. Retrieved 27 May 2010.
- "Ulster 19–17 Glasgow". BBC Sport. BBC. 1 October 2010. Retrieved 1 October 2010.
- "Five Top Players on God's Rugby Squad". eden.co.uk. Retrieved 16 March 2014.