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VIDEO: Pienaar talks about finally walking off into 'retirement sunset'

He has won a World Cup, beat the British and Irish Lions and has won more than one Currie Cup title with different provinces.


However, those are not the memories Ruan Pienaar will cherish most when he plays in his 85th and final game for the Cheetahs on Friday.

Pienaar, 40, will end his playing career in front of family and friends at Shimla Park on Friday – when the Cheetahs host Griquas in a SA Cup match in Bloemfontein.

It will bring the curtain down on a career that started with the Cheetahs – before a move to the Sharks in 2004 – and included stints with Ulster, Montpellier and finally the Cheetahs … again.

Born and schooled (Grey College) in Bloemfontein, Pienaar played more than 350 first-class games.

Now add his 88 Test caps and you understand why the Springbok achieved legendary status as a player.

“I have been part of big games and that is always a massive thrill,” Pienaar told a media briefing on Tuesday, adding: “Memories is all you will have left once you retire.


“All those things – titles and medals – are nice, but the memories you make with friends, meeting new people, the banter in the change room are the things you will remember.

“I will miss playing but the memories will be with me longer than the rest of it.”


Pienaar admitted he is an enormous fan of the Currie Cup competition, so the titles he won with the Sharks (2008), as well as the Cheetahs (2019 and 2023), stand out for him.


Yes, there was the 2007 World Cup victory, the 2009 series win over the British and Irish Lions, as well as junior World Cups (2003 – Under-19) and (2005 – Under-21).

However, the Currie Cup is the one tournament he treasures most.

“I truly hope the competition continues for another 100 years,” the ingratiating and amiable utility back said.

“It is the competition with the most enduring history and features some of the biggest names in the game.

“I have had the privilege to have played in the Currie Cup competition and it remains something that deserves a special place in the South African calendar.

“To have returned to the Cheetahs at age 35 and to have been part of two Currie Cup-winning teams is special – given that when I left in 2004 I never thought I would play for the Cheetahs.”

As a schoolboy, he was a huge Cheetahs/Free State supporter and finally got to represent the team he most adored.

(WATCH as Cheetahs and Springbok legend Ruan Pienaar talks about finally ending his playing career – two decades after it started….)

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Frans Steyn, another Cheetahs and Springbok legend who was forced to retire with a career-ending knee injury last year, has been roommates with Pienaar on numerous Springbok tours and international ventures.

Steyn played more than 300 first-class games for the Sharks, Cheetahs,, Racing M├ętro 92, Montpellier and Brave Lupus, to go with his 78 Tests since 2006.

“It is nice for me that he is here at the Cheetahs as well,” said Steyn, who was appointed as Director of Rugby at the Bloemfontein-based franchise in November last year.

“He is here and will help me.

“It is nice having a friend here.

“If he tells me I am doing something wrong, I will believe him.”

Steyn said Friday would be a sad day.

“South Africa has had some great players through the years and I don’t think Ruan always got the credit he deserved.

“If I have to select a World XV, his name will be one of the first I put down.”

While their ‘friendship’ continues in the Cheetahs sept-up – as a coach and administrator – Steyn said he just hopes they can make a success of it.

“This is a funny sport,” the 37-year-old said.

“Maybe they just us away in three months,” he quipped.

“We want to do good for the Cheetahs, Bloemfontein and the Free State.

“It is not about achieving personal glories, we want to do good for the Cheetahs and Free State.

“There are no ulterior motives.

“It is the love we have for this place.”

Pienaar had long been earmarking the central unions derby – Cheetahs versus Griquas – for his swansong as a professional player.

He will now step into coaching in the junior ranks at the Cheetahs.

Pienaar played his high school rugby in Bloemfontein, where he attended Grey College.

He played for the Free State Craven Week side in 2002.

He made his provincial first-class debut for the Cheetahs on 14 February 2004 in a friendly match against Western Province in Bloemfontein, scoring a try, before heading off to Durban and the Sharks.

Now it has come a full circle and he will walk off into the sunset, as a player, in a game that is sure to be a special occasion in Bloemfontein.



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