NZ Rugby World Tournament Guide - - MAGNIFICENT SEVEN -

TOUR­NA­MENT: 1995 PO­SI­TION: Flanker AGE ON DE­BUT: 26 AGE WHEN FIRST CAP­TAIN: 26 CAPS BE­FORE BE­COM­ING CAP­TAIN: 0 TESTS AS CAP­TAIN: 29 TO­TAL CAPS: 29 KEY QUAL­I­TIES: In­clu­sive mind-set. Po­lit­i­cally aware and emo­tion­ally at­tached to the big­ger cause. In­tel­li­gent. Ar­tic­u­late. Tough.

Made cap­tain in 1993, Fran­cois Pien­aar was both the old and new face of Spring­bok cap­tain. The iso­la­tion years ended in 1992 and there was an in­evitable pe­riod of a few old cam­paign­ers be­ing given the right to play for their coun­try hav­ing missed out for so long.

But by 1993, it was ap­par­ent the Spring­boks needed to mod­ernise and re­ju­ve­nate. Iso­la­tion had left them be­hind the All Blacks and Wal­la­bies – Eng­land and France, too. They needed new lead­ers, new play­ers and new ideas. En­ter Pien­aar as cap­tain – on de­but.

Blond, blue-eyed and Afrikaans – he had the tra­di­tion­al­ists vote. But Pien­aar, another who trained as a lawyer, was po­lit­i­cally aware. He was in­tel­li­gent and con­scious of the need for the Spring­boks to rep­re­sent more than the old white, South Africa. He was in­clu­sive and flex­i­ble in his think­ing which is why he formed such a strong bond with Pres­i­dent Nel­son Man­dela.

A tough player who would never ask oth­ers to do things he wouldn’t, Pien­aar had the trench war­fare men­tal­ity to win over the troops.

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