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Ruan Pienaar to lead Cheetahs in last dance

Former Springbok Ruan Pienaar will captain the Free Staters in his 85th and final match for the Bloemfontein outfit.

Scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar will wear the captain’s armband in his final professional match when the Cheetahs and Griquas lock horns in the SA Cup at Shimla Park tonight.

A stalwart of South African rugby, the 40-year-old playmaker will hang up his boots after leading the team in his 85th match for the Free Staters.

“It’s a sad day. I think South Africa has had great rugby players over the years, and I think as far as Ruan is concerned, the credit he deserves has not always come his way,” Cheetahs director of rugby Frans Steyn said.

Pienaar’s 20-year professional career started in 2004 with the Sharks in Durban, a journey that has seen him win a Rugby World Cup, play 88 Tests for the Springboks, 141 games for Ulster and 28 matches for Montpellier.

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“My rugby career has gone full circle, and finishing where it all began in Bloemfontein [at Grey College] and in front of family and friends is special,” he explained.

“To come back [to South Africa] at the age of 35 and be part of two Currie Cup titles was special. I’m still a huge fan of the Currie Cup series and hope it can continue for another 100 years. It’s a competition with so much history.

“So many big names in South African rugby have been privileged to lift the cup and play in the series. For me, it still holds a special place on the local rugby calendar.”

Pienaar has already taken the first steps in his coaching career when he officially joined the Free State U21s as backline and attack coach.

Meanwhile, prop Alulutho Tshakweni is set to run out in his 50th and last match for the Cheetahs. Hooker Marnus van der Merwe (Scarlets), Tapiwa Mafura and Sibabala Qoma (both Lions) will also make their final appearance in the colours of the Bloemfontein outfit.

Cheetahs – 15 Tapiwa Mafura, 14 Daniel Kasende, 13 Munier Hartzenberg, 12 Jooste Nel, 11 Litha Nkula, 10 George Lourens, 9 Ruan Pienaar (c), 8 Jeandre Rudolph, 7 Sibabalo Qoma, 6 Gideon van der Merwe, 5 Oupa Mohoje, 5 Pierre-Raymond Uys, 4 Pierre Uys, 3 Aranos Coetzee, 2 Marnus van der Merwe, 1 Alulutho Tshakweni.
Sub: 16 Louis van der Westhuizen, 17 Cameron Dawson, 18 Justin Forwood, 19 Sisonke Vumazonke, 20 Will Hickey, 21 Neels Volschenk, 22 Marco Janse van Vuren, 23 Rewan Kruger.

The match kicks off at 18:00.

The post Pienaar to lead Cheetahs in last dance appeared first on SA Rugby magazine.

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