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Francois Pienaar is a South-African retired rugby union player. His preferred position was Flanker. He is most famous for leading his country to victory in the 1995 Rugby World Cup Final. Pienaar played for the Springboks 29 times between 1993 and 1996. All of his 29 appearances for his country were as captain.
The South African rugby star made his debut in 1989 for Transvaal Province. His most successful year for Transvaal was in 1993 when he won the Lion Cup, Currie Cup, and the Super 10. The following year he led the team to the Currie Cup once again. This helped him become the international player of the year, as voted for by the Rugby World Magazine in 1994. Pienaar built on this success the following year to lead the unrated Springboks to triumph in the Rugby World Cup. The Springboks were considered rank outsiders, being seeded only ninth. Nobody was expected to beat the Australians who were aiming to retain their title. That said, Pienaar led the Springboks to victory against Australia, before eventually beating the All Blacks in the final. Such was the acclaim held for the rugby legend, Nelson Mandela presented Pienaar with a South African jersey with Pienaar’s number on. This makes a Francois Pienaar signed shirt or jersey even more sought after.
The fairy tale story of the Springboks winning the 1995 Rugby World Cup is illustrated in the film Invictus. The Hollywood superstar Matt Damon played Pienaar to elevate the rugby legend’s status across the globe. Pienaar was dropped from the Springbok team in controversial circumstances in 1996 and moved to Britain. He joined Saracens in 1997 and made 44 appearances for the club. In 2000 he coached the Saracens for two years. During his time there he won the Pilkington Cup and came 2nd in the Premiership.
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