Ruan Pienaar Cheetahs Currie Cup

Cheetahs and Springbok legend Ruan Pienaar. Photo: Christiaan Kotze/BackpagePix

Springbok legend Ruan Pienaar set for final game at age of 40

Ruan Pienaar has enjoyed a professional career that has spanned nearly two decades. But on Friday he will finally hang up his boots.

Ruan Pienaar Cheetahs Currie Cup

Cheetahs and Springbok legend Ruan Pienaar. Photo: Christiaan Kotze/BackpagePix

Ruan Pienaar has carved a unique path in South African rugby, and not only because he has played at such a high level for so long.

From a young age, Pienaar was quickly identified as a talented and versatile player who had a bright future ahead of him. He earned his Springbok debut in 2006 and was part of the victorious World Cup squads in 2007. It was the start of a special Springbok career that saw him earn 88 Test caps.

In 2010, Pienaar took a bold step, moving to Ulster in Ireland. There, he blossomed into a club legend, leading them to several finals and earning the respect of European rugby. After seven stellar seasons, he joined Montpellier in France for a stint before returning to South Africa in 2019.

Pienaar’s homecoming saw him rejoin the Cheetahs, with his leadership and experience ensuring they once again achieved success in the Currie Cup.

However, he is now finally heading into retirement, but the veteran will take to the field for the final time for his beloved Toyota Cheetahs side in the SA Cup derby against Griquas on Friday night

Speaking about his former teammate, fellow Springbok legend and Cheetahs director of rugby Frans Steyn said, as quoted by Planet Rugby, “He hates to lose… Even more than me. And he stresses before the game. But on the field he can read a game like few other players. It isn’t often that you find a player that has an all-round game like him, especially at nine. His passes are good, his kicking is exceptional, and he reads the game unbelievably well.”

Pienaar has remarkably remained mostly injury free throughout most of his career, a testament to his work ethic and training.

“I think I chose my position wisely, Frans (Steyn) took a bit more hammering in the midfield than I did at scrumhalf. I’ve been really blessed and fortunate that I haven’t picked up long term injuries. I had a knee injury when I was 19 or 20, but that was probably the most serious injury that I had,” Pienaar said.

“Everything is still intact. Hopefully all goes well on Friday and I will leave the game still feeling fine and being able to play with my kids afterwards.”


Pienaar will take the first steps in his coaching career when he officially joins the Free State U21 and the union’s academy coaching staff as the new backline and attack coach.

The union recently issued an official statement, with Pienaar stating: “Now that I’m going into coaching, it is something I want to concentrate on. Not all players have those skills and it is something I want to work on with them.”


“Ruan Pienaar brings a wealth of experience, and the Cheetahs are fortunate to have him in our camp,” MJ Smith, COO of the Free State Cheetahs (Pty) Ltd said.

“He will also be involved with all the professional teams, and his job will be to further improve the skill set needed in the way the Toyota Cheetahs wants to play. Ruan will be the bridge between the juniors and seniors and raise the next generation of senior players by equipping them to play on a higher level.  

“We need continuity between the teams,” Smith added. 

Match information for a farewell game to a true legend:

Toyota Cheetahs vs Suzuki Griquas
Date: Friday, 17 May
Venue: Shimla Park, Bloemfontein
Referee: AJ Jacobs
SA Time: 18h00
TV: SuperSport Variety 4 (209)