Former Ulster scrum-half Ruan Pienaar has joined French Top 14 side Montpellier on a three-year deal.
The South African spent seven seasons with the Red Hand and had been keen to extend his stay. But the IRFU told Ulster they could not retain the 33-year-old, claiming he was blocking the development of Irish- qualified players.
Pienaar said he would like to return to Ulster in a coaching capacity at some stage.
Yesterday Montpellier announced Pienaar had agreed a deal taking him up to 2020. They also captured French number eight Louis Picamoles from Northampton and New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden.
“I’m really looking forward to arriving in Montpellier. This is a new challenge for me. The Montpellier Hérault Rugby is a large club, with a team composed of many world-class players. And it’s also a wonderful city,” said Pienaar.
“It is true I played under the colours of the Ulster province for seven seasons, and I was very attached to it. But I was not allowed to stay any longer, because of the Irish rugby federation rules regarding foreign players. Still, I spent some wonderful years in Belfast, and I hope to continue this great journey that rugby offers me here in Montpellier.”
Meanwhile, Munster coaches Jerry Flannery and Felix Jones have both signed two-year contract extensions with the province, while team manager Niall O’Donovan has inked a three-year deal.
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