|Born||Vereeniging, January 2, 1967
|Internationals||23 caps between 1993 and 1996
|Inducted||December 2, 2000
The following article has been adapted from the original by Dai Llewellyn, which focused on two players. It has been changed to highlight only the selected inductee’s information.
Twickenham holds a special place in Francois Pienaar’s memory. That is some achievement given that this man, as captain of South Africa, lifted the World Cup at Ellis Park in 1995 and consigned to dim memory the years of sporting isolation. It was one of the sport’s most emotional moments.
“Twickenham is very special to me,” reveals Pienaar, “because I played in the Saracens team which won the first trophy in the club’s history, when we beat Wasps in the Tetley’s Bitter Cup final. After the World Cup in 1995 that 48-18 victory is one of the most memorable highlights of my career.”
Pienaar’s elevation to the Wall of Fame at Twickenham is another for his memories. “It is a great honour to be the first South African to be placed on the Wall of Fame,” says the Saracens chief executive. “Twickenham has always been special for me, even before I played there, because we were able to see the games broadcast during the years of isolation and there were some fantastic matches.
“When I first went there in 1992, as a spectator during South Africa’s first tour since coming back into the international fold – I did not make the squad that time – it was an amazing experience. I remember I was sitting in the West Stand and it was there I heard for the first time, ‘Swing Low, Sweet Chariot’. It gave me goose bumps.”
Pienaar’s next visit to headquarters was also memorable. It was in 1995 and by then he was captain of the World Champions. “We were very motivated for that Test against England,” he remembers. “It was vitally important that we finished what had been an unforgettable year undefeated and on a high.
Twickenham did the Rainbow Warriors proud. The match was a sell-out at its new capacity of 75,000, and South Africa beat England 24-14.
Article by Dai Llewellyn