1995 FRANCOIS PIENAAR
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.