Sunday 18 February 2018

Francois Pienaar: The Heineken Cup is phenomenal, but the format is wrong

Former World Cup winner Francois Pienaar believes the Heineken Cup is a 'phenomenal' competition.
Former World Cup winner Francois Pienaar believes the Heineken Cup is a 'phenomenal' competition.


South Africa’s World Cup winning captain has hailed the quality of the Heineken Cup, but believes the format needs drastic change.

This year marks the final year of the competition in its current guise, but the Saracens board member believes that the format needs to be tailored to the players needs.

“I would like to see the Heineken Cup played in a block,” he told

“It starts in October and runs right through to the summer. The format is mirrored on football, but it’s not football.”

“The physicality of rugby is at such a high intensity."

Despite this flaw, he is more than impressed with the standard of Northern Hemisphere's premier club rugby competition, on par with the Super XV.

“It’s a phenomenal competition and we follow it back in South Africa with great interest.”

Pienaar will be at Ravenhill this weekend to witness the Aviva Premiership leaders take on Ulster in what he feels will be a very tight encounter, with a number of South Africans involved.

Pienaar has close ties with his namesake Ruan at Ulster and while he hopes that the versatile back plays a great game, he still hopes to see his club emerge victorious.

“I was fortunate enough to be coached by Ruan’s dad. He was part of the coaching team in 1995, coaching the backs.”

“He was a phenomenal rugby player who attacked from the back and Ruan has taken on that mantle.”

“He’s almost too good in too many positions, you can play him anywhere.”

“I hope he plays a great game and if both teams play the ultimate game it will be epic to watch.”

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