'There Should Be Exceptions; He Was No Longer A Mercenary, He Wanted To Stay'

'There Should Be Exceptions; He Was No Longer A Mercenary, He Wanted To Stay'

Reports in the Irish Independent yesterday suggested that Munster's short-term loanee Jaco Taute will remain at Thomond Park beyond his scheduled stay - a sublime coup for the province as the three-time Springbok continues to endear himself to fans with his blood-and-thunder displays.

You could forgive Ulster, then, for feeling somewhat aggrieved that their own 88-time Springbok, Ruan Pienaar, will be moved on regardless at the end of the season. "It is vital for both Ulster and Irish rugby that the province develop indigenous talent in this position," said IRFU performance director David Nucifora at the end of August, when it was announced Pienaar would depart the northern province. "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."

And so Pienaar, who has embedded himself within the Ulstermen's rugby culture for the past six years, will depart for pastures anew in the summer, where it appears Taute will remain in Munster after impressing during his short stint.

The argument put forward by Munster chief Rassie Erasmus regarding the retention of Taute was clear; he's a weapon, and his presence is of obvious benefit to upcoming Irish stars such as Rory Scannell and Sam Arnold. He and Scannell, for example, have forged one of the most prolific central partnerships in European rugby since the long-term injury to Francis Saili which forced Munster to put the feelers out abroad.


Following on from last week's insight into Leinster Strength and Conditioning Coach Tom Turner, the third of Laya Healthcare's #behindtheteam video series sees us catch up with Daniel Davey, Performance Nutritionist at Leinster Rugby, who explains how he prepares his players' diets throughout the season. You can check it out below:



Speaking on the second episode of our new rugby podcast, Balls and Mauls, Leinster and Ireland legend Shane Byrne discussed the presence of foreign stars in Irish teams, and questioned as to whether a compromise could have been reached to keep Pienaar at Ulster:

Taute has really hit the ground running over here, and Munster - the style of game that they're playing - they like having a big hammer there at 12 or 13. He's just taken to it, and is really, really enjoying his game. He [would] be missed, but unfortunately that's professional rugby for you.

It would be expensive to get him because you'd have to break his contract. It would cost a pretty penny to get him.

Sure look at Pienaar up in Ulster. The influence he has had... And it's not so much developing scrum-halves behind him per se, but whenever Ulster are good he's central to it. That guy, you've gotta feel sorry for him. He wanted to put his roots down in Belfast. Genuinely, that was it. He was happy to stay. And unfortunately he's being pushed along. But yeah, guys like that coming in, when they work in the side, they can give just a different point of view, a different outlook [on the game].

And when they're as one-direction as [Taute] is down in Munster, it's fantastic to see. Why can't you learn from them? His calmness... He never seems to be getting flustered. That's something that everyone can learn from.

The 'indigenous talent' rule is obviously important; look no further than Ireland's options in the front row now when compared to recent years, and indeed the abundance of talent and depth in all positions now at Joe Schmidt's disposal.


During the podcast, we put it to Byrne that it strikes as oddly callous that a player such as Pienaar would be forced to up sticks and leave behind what is now a family home, having performed so capably and indeed spectacularly since his arrival in 2010. He explained:

It is and it isn't. The thought process behind it is correct. It is all about developing players, and developing Irish home-grown players. And that's the process behind it - that if one province brings in a tighthead from abroad who can't play for Ireland, then another province can't bring in a tighthead [from abroad], to make sure that they are Irish tightheads around there.

But I feel that there should be - and this a hard one - but I feel that there should be exceptions. Because Pienaar was no longer a mercenary, he wanted to stay in Belfast. And that was it. Why, I don't know! But he wanted to stay there. And there should be cases, room for that.

We all know that would open up a can of worms as well, but the simple fact is that he's devastated to be leaving. And it's ironic, since that announcement - he was always good - but he has been outstanding for Ulster. I think he's had two or three Man of the Matches since. He's an absolute thoroughbred, and it just shows what the man is made of. He's just going, 'Right, I'm going out with a bang here'.

Byrne also discussed the antics of Dylan Hartley and - after a clean sweep last week - gave his predictions for the four provinces during next weekend's Champions Cup fixtures. You can listen to that here:

SEE ALSO: In Our Last #BehindTheTeam Podcast, Shane Byrne Gives Intriguing Take On Who Should Start In Ireland's Back Row For The 6 Nations


Gavan Casey
Article written by
Former handwriting champion. Was violently bitten by a pelican at Fota Wildlife Park in 2001.

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