The IRFU have released a statement explaining why they have prevented Ulster from extending the contract of Ruan Pienaar past the end of this season.
Ulster Rugby explained on Wednesday morning that a contract extension was not possible because of the IRFU’s succession policy. This policy restricts non-Irish qualified players to one per field position across the provinces (excluding Connacht) - in the hope that there will be a minimum of two Irish-qualified players per position playing for the three traditional major provinces.
David Nucifora, IRFU Performance Director, then released the following explanation - “The IRFU recognises the contribution that Ruan Pienaar has made to Ulster Rugby over the seven year period he will have been with the province, however the IRFU informed Ulster Rugby during the 2015/16 season that it would not sanction a further extension of his contract.
“It is vital for both Ulster and Irish rugby that the province develop indigenous talent in this position and 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.”
Ulster explained that both the province and the player were very keen for Pienaar to extend his stay in Belfast, “with Operations Director Bryn Cunningham and Director of Rugby Les Kiss working with the IRFU over the past six months to reach a desirable outcome. Unfortunately, a contract extension was not possible due to the IRFU’s succession policy.”