Francois Pienaar Springbok

Francois Pienaar. Photo: BackpagePix

Where is iconic former Springbok captain Francois Pienaar now?

Francois Pienaar is one of the most famous Springbok players of all time. We reflect on his career and what he’s been up to since retiring.

Francois Pienaar Springbok

Francois Pienaar. Photo: BackpagePix

Francois Pienaar, the Springboks’ 1995 Rugby World Cup captain, is one of the game’s most recognisable figures.

Pienaar, born in 1965, isn’t just a rugby legend, he’s a symbol of South Africa’s unification. While his playing career spanned a decade, from 1989 to 1996, it’s his leadership as captain of the Springboks during the 1995 Rugby World Cup that truly cemented his place in history.

The popular flanker was one of the few players who boasted such notable leadership qualities that he served as Springbok captain from the day he made his Test debut (26 June 1993) right through to his final international appearance (10 August 1996).

This bold choice paid off. Pienaar led the newly re-integrated South Africa, a nation still grappling with the legacy of apartheid, to a famous victory in the 1995 World Cup held on home soil. The iconic image of Nelson Mandela, wearing a Springbok jersey, presenting the trophy to Pienaar became a powerful symbol of national unity.

Pienaar’s captaincy went beyond on-field tactics. He understood the importance of uniting a divided nation. He actively included black players in the team, fostering a sense of shared purpose. This leadership earned him immense respect, not just in South Africa, but globally.

Following the World Cup, Pienaar continued to captain the Springboks for another year. He also led a player’s strike in 1995, a move that helped pave the way for professional rugby in South Africa.

In 1996, Pienaar left South Africa to play for the English club Saracens, where he achieved further success, including a cup win in 1998.

The influential loose forward also enjoyed an illustrious domestic career with Transvaal, making over 100 appearances for the domestic side. In 1993 Transvaal won the Super 10, Currie Cup and Lion Cup under Pienaar. In 1994, Transvaal retained the Currie Cup under his captaincy and he was voted international player of the year by Rugby World magazine.

Francois Pienaar is one of the most iconic Springboks of all time

In 2000, Pienaar retired as a player and became Saracens’ CEO. He eventually stepped down a couple of years’ later, but continued to serve as a director.

In 2002, he returned to South Africa and was later approached by the First Rand Group where he became head of sponsorships and strategic business development. In 2005, Francois was seconded by First National Bank as CEO for the 2011 Rugby World Cup bid.

He then became Provincial Chairman of First National Bank in the Western Cape until 2009. That year he was also approached by the Indian Premier League to spearhead their marketing campaign in South Africa.

He left First Rand Bank to follow his passion for sport, media and entertainment and started Advent Sport Entertainment and Media (Pty) Ltd in 2009 in which First Rand Bank became a shareholder.

Pienaar has also remained involved in numerous charities and was a founder of the Make A Difference (MAD) charitable organisation when he returned to SA.

Personal life

Pienaar is married to Nerine Winter. The couple have two sons: Jean and Stephane.