FILE - Cheetahs scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar. Photo: Frikkie Kapp/BackpagePix
FILE - Cheetahs scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar. Photo: Frikkie Kapp/BackpagePix

Ruan Pienaar back at Sharks on loan from Cheetahs for United Rugby Championship

By Mike Greenaway Time of article published Sep 8, 2021

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DURBAN – We have grown used to crazy things happening in sport in these times of Covid but who would have predicted that Ruan Pienaar would make a return to the Sharks, the union he served with distinction between 2004 and 2010?

Pienaar and his fellow Cheetahs scrumhalf, Tian Meyer, have joined the Sharks on loan for the United Rugby Championship as part of a cooperation agreement between the unions for the exchange of players and to support each other on a broader front.

This was announced by the Sharks and the Cheetahs on Wednesday in a step that aims to benefit both teams in terms of their player strength, as well as financially, while the move is in the broader interests of South African rugby as it will mean stronger teams.

In terms of the agreement, the Cheetahs and Sharks will make some of their players available to each other on request and when their competitions do not overlap.

The Sharks will also provide players to the Cheetahs and some of them could even be made available for the 2022 Currie Cup competition.

With Springbok selection and injuries ruling out three of the Sharks scrumhalves in Jaden Hendrikse (broken leg), Grant Williams (on duty with the Boks in Australia) and Cameron Wright (injured), the arrival of Pienaar and Meyer is a godsend.

While Meyer will only tour with the Sharks when they leave next week for their four URC matches in the UK and Ireland, Pienaar will be involved for a longer period in the competition and his invaluable experience and knowledge of the European playing conditions will be hugely beneficial.

This kind of agreement is not something new for the Cheetahs, who have had such agreements with the neighbouring Griffons and Griquas as well as Toyota Verblitz in Japan and it is likely to become more commonplace in the modern game where there are increasing demands on player depth.

In a joint statement, the CEOs of the Sharks and the Cheetahs, Harold Verster and Ed Coetzee, said: “The international disruption of rugby by Covid-19 and its economic consequences necessitate the rebuilding and strengthening of this wonderful game. This requires innovative plans to retain good players and coaches, to maintain performance and to ultimately achieve on the field. This cooperation agreement will help both teams and offer them flexibility.”

@MikeGreenaway67

IOL Sport

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