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A charismatic man of integrity and courage and a player of physical renown, Francois Pienaar captained South Africa to Rugby World Cup glory in their debut tournament on home soil in 1995.
Under his inspired leadership a nation previously divided came together to rejoice in the thrilling extra-time victory over the All Blacks at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.
Pienaar was a natural choice as captain, having led Transvaal to back-to-back Currie Cup titles in 1993 and 1994. The indomitable back-row captained South Africa in every one of his 29 tests, only eight of which were lost. He was named International Rugby Player of the Year in 1994.
After his last test for South Africa, against New Zealand at Newlands in August 1996, Pienaar headed overseas and led English club Saracens to the Tetley’s Bitter Cup in 1998. He later became the club’s Chief Executive. Pienaar is now a respected television pundit.
Probably its best attribute is that rugby caters for a variety of athletes with a vast range of skills. When the skills blend and are executed on game day, there simply cannot be a better team sport.