Ruan Pienaar 50th cap | Toyota Cheetahs

Ruan Pienaar (2004; 2019-’22)

At an age when most former rugby players have long since taken off their boots, the Cheetahs’ Ruan Pienaar, captain and scrumhalf, is still playing the world on fire.

The 38-year-old scrum-half has made an enormous impact on the Cheetahs since he re-joined them in 2019 after an absence of 15 years.

Ruan and Frans Steyn, who both played for Grey College in Bloemfontein and the Free State Cravenweek team, recently extended their contracts with the Toyota Cheetahs until the end of 2023.

Not only his game but also his leadership and experience were one of the main ingredients of the Free State’s victory in the Currie Cup in 2019.

Ruan was outstanding for the Free Staters after he returned “home in 2019”. He lifted the Currie Cup with them the same year.

Pienaar was on the sidelines for a long time in 2020-21 with a knee injury, which he suffered on 16 October 2020 in the second Super Rugby Unlocked match against the Bulls in Bloemfontein. He missed the rest of the 2020 series, as well as the Currie Cup series (2020-’21) due to this injury and then again on 27 February 2021 in the pre-season match against the Stormers in Cape Town, then as a substitute.

Ruan has been doing everything to the fullest since his junior days. He is very competitive and he gym and trains just as hard as the other players, if not harder.

Ruan and his equally famous Springbok father – Gysie – boast impressive player records.

Gysie (1976 – fullback) and Ruan (2019 – scrumhalf) are the only father-son combination who played in a Currie Cup-winning team for the Free State.

Together with Flippie (1981-’89) and Flip van der Merwe (2010-’15) they are the only father and son who can boast that they both played for the Free State and the Springboks – Gysie (as a fullback in 1980- ’81) and Ruan (mainly as scrumhalf in 2006-’15); Gysie in 13 Tests and Ruan in 88 Tests.

Gysie (165) and Ruan Pienaar (49),  together with the centers Pikkie (sr – 56 games) and JP du Toit (jr – 71 games) and Callie (hooker – 75 games) and Carl Wegner (lock – 87 games) the only other father and son who have played in more than 50 matches for the Free State.

Gysie (19 years 4 months 20 days) and Ruan (19 years 11 months 4 days) are the only father-son combination who were both under 20 when they made their debut for the Free State.

Gysie and Ruan are the only father and son who led the Free State team – Gysie in 6 matches and Ruan is already on 32 matches.

Ruan has already played for the following teams in his career: SA Schools (2002); SA o.19 (2003); SA o.21 (2004-’05: 10); Cheetahs (2004; 2019-’22: 49 games; 32 captain); KZN (2005-’10: 100); SA XV (2006: 1); SA (2006-’15: TESTS: 88; OTHER – 2006-’07; 2009: 5); Springboks (2014-’15: 2); British Barbarians (2011; 2015: 3); Ulster, Ireland (2010-17 ’: 141); Montpellier, France (2017-’19: 28); ALL FIRST PROMOTIONS (by 31/5/2022): 437 matches / 2 066 points.