Sally Allen represents the media interests of the charismatic 1995 Rugby World Cup winning skipper – Francois Pienaar whose position in the game transcends even the rarest of honours.
When he stepped forward to receive the RWC Trophy from President Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg on June 24th 1995, following South Africa’s 15-12 extra time win over New Zealand, he became the very symbol of sweeping positive political change in a country that had been manacled for generations to sporting isolation by apartheid.
Before that 1995 tournament kicked off, Pienaar took the squad to Robben Island to see the cell where Mandela had been imprisoned for 18 years. The message was clear, not just to his countrymen, but to the rest of the world.
After consulting President Mandela, Pienaar accepted an offer to play in England for Saracens and when the club was restructured became player-coach. Pienaar, committed to making Saracens the best club side in the world, is on course to be the acceptable face of another positive revolution – this one exclusively of the rugby kind.
September 1999 saw Pienaar successfully add two new achievements to his career. The publication of his long awaited autobiography, ‘Rainbow Warrior’ which immediately gained best-seller status in South Africa and the UK and, the beginning of a promising career in broadcasting when he joined ITV’s broadcast team for Rugby World Cup ‘99.
During his years living in the UK Francois became Chief Executive and Director of Coaching for Saracens, and ITV’s regular rugby union expert pundit. With his abilitiesas a first rate communicator on international display yet again, Francois was nominated for a TV Award for his performance as captain of the ‘pundit’ team for ITV’s coverage of the 2003 Rugby World Cup.
Francois is currently back living in Cape Town, travelling the world as Ambassador for The First Rand Group and will be back on international television screens very soon with ITV.