Chairman of the Foundation


Francois Pienaar was born and educated in the former Transvaal and holds a law degree from the University of Johannesburg. During his school years, he represented South Africa in both rugby and cricket, after which he chose to pursue a professional career in rugby. He captained a remarkable Transvaal side that went through the entire 1993 season undefeated, winning four competitions including the inaugural Super 10 tournament. No other rugby team has ever achieved this remarkable feat. He went on to play for South Africa, captaining the side in his first match and in every one of his 29 appearances, culminating in the famous victory at the World Cup in 1995. He was acknowledged at that time as an inspiring leader, with an uncompromising approach to commitment. He has won many accolades, which include South African Rugby Player of the Year (1993), International Rugby Player of the Year (1994), International Rugby Captain of the Year (1995), and Rugby Personality of the Year (nominated by the top 20 rugby writers in Britain in 1996). He was inducted into the International Hall of Fame in 2005. Inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame 2011 and in 2016 received the Steve Tshwete Lifetime Achievement Award.

In 1996, he joined the Saracens Club in England and later became the first player/coach in the game. He eventually became the CEO at Saracens and helped to transform Saracens from an amateur to a professional rugby club. Under Francois’ leadership they won their first ever trophy in 127 years. Francois is currently a Saracens board member. He received an honorary doctorate on 23 November 2000 from the University of Hertfordshire, at the age of 33.

Francois was chosen to be the ambassador for Guinness and Visa, the main sponsors during the 1999 and 2003 Rugby World Cups. He was also part of the ITV Rugby World Cup commentary team and was twice nominated by the Royal Television Society for an award as best sports pundit. He is the only amateur to receive such a nomination.

Six years later Francois and his family, his wife Nerine and boys Jean and Stephane returned home to South Africa. The First Rand Group approached Francois, where he became head of sponsorships and strategic business development. In 2005, Francois was seconded by First National Bank as CEO for the 2011 Rugby World Cup bid and he became Provincial Chairman of First National Bank in the Western Cape until 2009.
In March 2009 Francois was approached by the Indian Premier League to spearhead their marketing campaign in South Africa. He left First Rand Bank to follow his passion for sport, media and entertainment and started Advent Sport Entertainment and Media (Pty) Ltd in 2009. Francois is Chairman of ASEM Varsity Sports and Chairman of the Cape Town Marathon. Francois is involved in numerous charities and is the founder of the Make A Difference (MAD) organization. Francois is on the board of Skoolbo, a media learning company which assists children with reading and math. Francois is an Honorary Patron of CHOC, the childhood cancer foundation of South Africa.

Nelson Mandela said:

It was under his inspiring leadership that rugby became the pride of the entire country, his leadership extended beyond the field of rugby and he truly represents all South Africans. Under his inspiring leadership a nation was brought together

In 2009 Warner Brothers, under the direction of Clint Eastwood, produced the Oscar nom-inated movie “Invictus” focusing on the 1995 Rugby World cup in South Africa and how a once divided nation became world champions. Mandela’s role was played by Morgan Freeman and Francois was played by Matt Damon.