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Captain of the Victorious 1995 country-unifying Rugby World Cup Team - The Springboks, Francois Pienaar is a remarkable athlete, trained lawyer and an ambassador for multi-racial sports and civil rights. He reached the highest peak in rugby union when he captained his country, South Africa, to World Cup victory in 1995. He was portrayed by Matt Damon in Clint Eastwood's blockbuster Invictus.
In 2005, Francois was seconded by First National Bank as CEO for the 2011 Rugby World cup bid. Having been named Newsmaker of the Year, he is his country's most celebrated icon after Nelson Mandela. He is one of the most inspiring speakers in the world.
Francois Pienaar was centre-stage in one of the most enduring images of the modern era: when he received the Webb Ellis Trophy from state president Nelson Mandela when South Africa won the Rugby World Cup in 1995. It was a triumph for their nation and also for their charismatic captain. During his acceptance speech, Pienaar made it clear that the team had won the trophy not just for the 60,000 fans at Ellis Park, but also for all 43,000,000 of his fellow South Africans. Pienaar was a world-class flanker, a great captain, but also a supreme ambassador for sports and civil rights.
From the lectern, Francois Pienaar will share his amazing journey of leadership, perseverance and remarkable human spirit.
The Courage to Lead
Francois Pienaar, with twenty nine international caps to his name, reached the highest peak in rugby union: he captained his country South Africa, to World Cup victory in 1995 on home turf and was presented the Webb Ellis Trophy by President Nelson Mandela. Indeed, the two men forged a friendship during the World Cup when Mandela appeared on the presentation rostrum wearing a Springbok jersey with Francois' number on the back.
Francois was appointed captain on his first international appearance, against France in 1993, and is now the most capped South African captain and arguably the world's most popular one. Alongside Francois' playing talents, his debt management skills, charisma and leadership abilities have enabled him to achieve God-like status in a country where rugby is a religion. He has proved himself an inspirational leader and is one of the few men on earth who can genuinely claim to have united South Africa behind a common cause.
Francois' skills in diplomacy were a clear feature in South Africa's passage from isolation to acclamation on the world rugby stage. A trained lawyer, Francois is an eloquent and articulate spokesman who is often quoted on a wide range of issues from rugby to business and from journalism to politics.
Having played a vital role for both his province and his country, Francois became player-coach of the struggling north London club Saracens. With him at the helm, Saracens' form underwent a dramatic transformation.
Pienaar eventually retired as a player and took over as Saracens CEO in 2000. The club ended the 2000/2001 Premiership season in fifth place, but the following year was less successful and with Saracens facing relegation Francois stepped down as coach and CEO, sensing that the club would benefit from a fresh perspective.
Away from rugby, Pienaar published an autobiography, Rainbow Warrior (1999), and regularly speaks on leadership, motivation and teamwork.
He has also been consistently involved in charity work with organizations such as Sargent Cancer Care for Children at the Royal Marsden Hospital, CHOC (The Children's Haematology and Oncology Clinic) and the Reach for a Dream Foundation. In November 2000, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Hertfordshire.
In 2002, he returned to South Africa and he currently lives in Cape Town with his wife and two sons, one of whom has Nelson Mandela for a godfather.
Worldwide, he continues to reinforce his reputation as the face of South African rugby. His charisma, leadership and strength of character place him much in demand to speak about the game he loves with a passion all over the world.
"Francois was a SENSATIONAL hit for KPMG in Rome. He got rave reviews and the client was ecstatic! Please extend our thanks and appreciation to Francois for an outstanding presentation."
"Francois did a wonderful job. He delivered the perfect message"
- The Courage to Lead
- Invictus: The Unconquerable Spirit that Makes Dreams Reality
- Uniting a People and a Country: Nelson Mandela & François Pienaar