The current season will be the Scrum-Half's last with the Province
Ulster Rugby have confirmed that scrum-half Ruan Pienaar is to leave at the end of the season. The South African has collected 118 competitive caps over the last six years.
Ulster said they spent six months in negotiations with the IRFU to keep the Sprinbok. However, they blame the IRFU's succession policy for the failure in securing a contract extension.
Pienaar has scored 777 points throughout his Ulster career ans was a member of the side that reached the Heineken Cup Final in 2012. Commenting on the issue, Pienaar said that he wanted to stay at Ulster.
"I am not moving on for a new adventure or for financial reasons" said the Scrum-half "I wanted to stay and I know that Ulster Rugby did everything it could to keep me in Belfast." Pienaar also thanked all players, staff and supporters for their encouragement, adding that the club gave him a lot and he would like to "give something back [to the club] in the future if possible".
Meanwhile Les Kiss "as disappointed with the outcome. The director of Rugby said that "he [Pienaar] was an outstanding servant to Ulster Rugby" and that he "will be a huge loss to the club". Kiss also said that he hoped Pienaar would return one day to continue to build on his already huge legacy with the club.
Ulster Chief Executive Shane Logan said that Pienaar's biggest impact since arriving in Ulster was "his work with the local community." He added that, on a personal level, he will miss having Pienaar around Kingspan. He also said that he was looking forward to see what Pienaar will bring to the side this season and maintained that the door would always be open to him for a return."
David Nucifora, IRFU Performance Director's Statement on Ruan Pienaar:
"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."