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What the experts say about Ulster rugby's Ruan Pienaar

After such a big buzz ahead of the new season, this deflating news comes as a real body blow

This is a big loss to Ulster Rugby. Obviously speaking to Ruan and speaking to the guys involved at Ulster Rugby, everyone was keen for him to stay.

And he was very, very keen to stay and I think was quite happy to end his career here.

The statement issued by Ulster Rugby shows that they wanted him and did everything in their power to try and keep him.

It's not Ulster Rugby's fault that he's leaving at the end of the season, it's the IRFU that is putting its foot down and saying no to another extension.

Unfortunately with the IRFU having the say on foreign players, he is having to leave and this time next year it will be over to somebody else.

But it will be difficult not seeing Ruan Pienaar in an Ulster jersey this time next year.

For me, it's very, very disappointing as he's given a lot to Irish and Ulster rugby union in general. He's embraced the culture here and he's contributed a lot to Ulster as a province.

And I know for a fact he wanted to stay, his family are settled and happy and I know Bryn Cunningham has been working very, very hard to try and get this sorted over the last six months.

But the IRFU has the final say.

I think looking at last Friday's win over Northampton there was clearly a good positive buzz about the season and then next thing we have this body blow.

It brings back a wee bit of negativity and slight doubt as when we have won big games he's been at the forefront.

The way the IRFU is probably looking at it, if Ruan signs for another two years he will then have been here for nine years.

That doesn't really open the door for any other talent coming through.

Stephen Ferris

Former Ulster flanker who also played for Ireland and the 2009 Lions

They’re on whole new level because of him

I’m shocked and really very disappointed.

He’s an exceptional rugby player with so much ability way beyond his superb kicking. To me, he really is a complete player.

It’s a real shame that he is going. Ruan is an example of what a professional rugby player should be both on and off the pitch.

The impact Ruan has had on Paddy Jackson’s career would be a really powerful argument for keeping him here. And don’t forget that Ruan’s presence has clearly also helped others players around him too.

I actually think he’s probably taken us to another level in the professional era with not only his performances, but his training and commitment.

But in terms of the actual decision, I can see it from both sides.

Ulster are about having the best players possible in their squad but they are also in the business of producing talent which can go on to represent the national team.

Gary Longwell

European Cup winner with UIster and ex-Ireland lock

Entire situation is just so very disappointing

He's been key to a lot of Ulster’s success in recent years so for the IRFU to say, ‘no, your time’s up’, is so very disappointing.

From an Ulster point of view, it’s not like Ruan has been blocking anyone’s path and preventing talent from coming through as Paul Marshall has had starts through rotation and with Ru being on international duty.

It makes you wonder if the IRFU has made this a sticking point or whether there was something put in place regarding this in the long-term.

I guess from a personal point of view it’s very disappointing as Ru’s been there a long time and he’s part of the furniture now.

Ru and his family will be absolutely gutted.

The fact that he’s been there for so long to then pull the rug out from under him is, well, I don’t know if he saw it coming or not but it’s really very disappointing.

Also, it’s not as if Ireland is flooded with foreign scrum-halves.

Tom Court

Ex-Ulster, Ireland and Lions prop now at London Irish

Dublin cracking the whip has hurt the province

It's really disappointing that the IRFU has this policy and Ulster just seem to have been penalised.

It’s a real, real shame. Ulster want to be top of the pile and to take one of your key players out is just a gut-wrench.

For Dublin this is a big, big call on their part. It feels almost as if they’re cracking the whip.

And what is the succession policy? We’ve got how many scrum-halves down in Munster or Leinster, or Connacht for that matter? Why are they saying to Ulster you need to push your own players here?

It’s just hamstrung Ulster because Ruan is an integral part of this team and makes it tick and to take that away, well, it looks like the IRFU is saying, ‘you’ve too many big players there so that’s not right’.

I think he has been absolutely magnificent since coming here and I’ve made many comments regarding Ruan as being the Rolls-Royce of scrum-half play.

For Ulster Rugby he’s been superb pretty much every time he’s donned the shirt. He’s got Ulster out of many holes through his goal-kicking and general play and him going will leave a huge hole for them to fill.

But it is what it is and business is business I guess.

I can understand why he didn’t want to leave as I’ve been here for nearly 23 years now and originally came for six months.

When the chips are down he is one of those guys you can rely on.

They’ll now have to rely more on Paddy Jackson to really control matters. Paddy can do it, though that wasn’t the case two years ago and we relied heavily on Ruan.

Andy Ward

Former Ulster and Ireland flanker who was in the European Cup-winning team

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