Free State Rugby have confirmed that two of the most experienced and versatile players in world rugby, Frans Steyn and Ruan Pienaar, have extended their contracts which will see them remain at the Toyota Cheetahs until at least the end of 2023.
“We are delighted to announce that both our captain, Ruan Pienaar, and utility back Frans Steyn have committed to the Toyota Cheetahs for another year,” says Ross van Reenen, CEO of Free State Rugby (Pty) Ltd.
Steyn joined the Sharks straight after matriculating at Grey College in 2006, after which he also played for Racing Metro in France (2009–2012), the Toshiba Brave Lupus in Japan (2014–2016) and the French team Montpellier (2016–2020) before joining the Cheetahs in 2020.
He played his first of 74 matches for the Springboks at the age of 19 and become the second Springbok after the former Cheetah Os du Randt to win two Rugby World Cups: the first in 2007 and the second in 2019. He made his Test debut for the Boks on the wing in 2006 and also started for the Springboks at flyhalf, centre and fullback.
Since returning to the Free State in August 2020, Steyn played in 22 matches for the side. When Ruan Pienaar was injured last year, he took over the place-kicking duties, a role which he performed particularly well. He has been in excellent form for the Cheetahs this year and played a cardinal role in the team’s unbeaten record in the current Currie Cup competition.
They do say that rugby is a team sport and it’s not about the individual, but there is no denying that the former Springbok scrumhalf and utility back Ruan Pienaar has been a revelation since his return to Bloemfontein. His fast, crisp, accurate and assertive play is a match made in heaven for the running rugby that the Toyota Cheetahs are so well known for.
This will be the third extension of Ruan’s contract since he joined the side in July 2019. The skilful player represented the Springboks in 88 test matches and has 43 caps for the Toyota Cheetahs under his belt.
Ruan’s leadership skills and experience have proven to be valuable for the Toyota Cheetahs. After making his debut for the Cheetahs in 2004, he joined the Sharks in Durban, which he represented in 32 Currie Cup games and 67 Super Rugby matches. In 2010 he joined the Irish side Ulster in Belfast for which he played in 141 matches between 2010 and 2017.
In 2012, Pienaar played in the Heineken Cup Final, scoring 9 points against Leinster. In 2013 he played in the Pro 12 Final, scoring all of Ulster’s 18 points against Leinster. He left the club as one of its most celebrated players of the professional era.
He also played for the French team Montpellier before returning home to his place of birth, Bloemfontein in 2019.