Despite the best efforts of both player and club, Ruan Pienaar’s playing days at the northern province are now numbered.
The South African has established himself as a real leader in the Ulster squad since arriving to Belfast in 2010. Scoring 777 points in 118 games Pienaar’s record speaks for itself.
However, due to the IRFU succession policy Pienaar must now leave the province with the scrum-half stating that it is to his dismay that he cannot remain at the club:
“I am not moving on for a new adventure or for financial reasons – I wanted to stay and I know that Ulster Rugby did everything it could to keep me in Belfast,” Pienaar said.
“I have many great memories of my time here and I have made some brilliant friends within rugby and outside of it. It is sad that this will be my last season as an Ulster player but I will be doing everything to ensure that we make it a successful campaign.”
Following Pienaar’s comments, IRFU performance director David Nucifora explained today in a press release the reason why Ulster will not be allowed to offer Pienaar an extended contract:
“The IRFU recognises the contribution that Ruan Pienaar has made to Ulster Rugby over the seven year period he will have been with the province, however the IRFU informed Ulster Rugby during the 2015/16 season that it would not sanction a further extension of his contract.
“It is vital for both Ulster and Irish rugby that the province develop indigenous talent in this position and an extension of Ruan’s contract would further prevent Irish qualified Ulster players from maximising their developmental potential and becoming stars for both Ulster and Ireland.”
The 88-timed capped Springbok and 2007 World Cup winner will leave a significant void in the Ulster backline.
While such policies are undoubtedly for the betterment of the Irish game in the long run, it certainly does dampen the prospects of the Irish provinces on a European front given the fact that their English and French counterparts can be much more liberal in their spending and squad formation.