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From Player to Coach - Ruan Pienaar's Remarkable Rugby Journey

Posted on Tuesday, 14 May 2024

From Player to Coach - Ruan Pienaar's Remarkable Rugby Journey

Ruan Pienaar

They say that rugby is a team sport, not about the individual. Still, there is no denying that the former Springbok scrumhalf and utility back Ruan Pienaar has been a revelation since his return to Bloemfontein. His fast, crisp, accurate and assertive play is a match made in heaven for the running rugby that the Toyota Cheetahs are so well known for.

Ruan made his first-class debut for the Cheetahs in 2004 and joined the Toyota Cheetahs again in October 2019.  The skilful player represented the Springboks in 88 test matches. After Friday's SA Cup match, he will have 85 caps for the Toyota Cheetahs, including two Currie Cup victories.


Ruan's leadership skills and experience have proven valuable for the Toyota Cheetahs. After making his debut for the Cheetahs in 2004, he joined the Sharks in Durban, where he represented 32 Currie Cup games and 67 Super Rugby matches.  In 2010, he joined the Irish side Ulster in Belfast, where he played in 141 matches between 2010 and 2017.  

2012 Pienaar played in the Heineken Cup Final, scoring 9 points against Leinster. In 2013, he played in the Pro 12 Final, scoring all of Ulster's 18 points against Leinster. He left the club as one of its most celebrated players of the professional era.

He also played for the French team Montpellier before returning home to his place of birth, Bloemfontein, in 2019, where he will hang up his boots at 40.


Ruan took the first steps in his coaching career when he officially joined the Free State U. 21 and Toyota Academy coaching staff as the new backline and attack coach.

Free State Rugby proudly celebrates this exceptional player, anticipating even greater achievements as he transitions into a coaching role. 

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