Cape Town - Ruan Pienaar said an emotional 'goodbye' to Ulster on Saturday, playing his final game at the Kingspan Stadium before his move to French giants Montpellier next season.
Now 33, Pienaar had been wanting to extend his stay at Ulster beyond the end of the season. The club had also been keen to re-sign Pienaar, but the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) blocked the move as part of a new succession plan that aims to back local players at Irish clubs.
Pienaar has been at Ulster since 2010 and he has become a legend at the club.
While he accepted the IRFU's decision midway through last year, Pienaar's team-mates are reportedly still unhappy about losing one of their key players.
"As players, we’re annoyed," said Ulster centre Luke Marshall was quoted as saying on Ireland's The 42 website.
"We don’t understand the decision, to be honest. I suppose we can’t air our frustrations too much against our employers, but I can totally understand the supporters’ feelings."
Marshall added that Pienaar had been an immense figure at Ulster over the years, saying that young players had flourished under his leadership.
Marshall pointed to 25-year-old Ireland flyhalf Paddy Jackson, in particular, who he believes has turned into a "world-class" flyhalf playing outside Pienaar.
Pienaar has played in 88 Tests for the Boks since making his debut back in 2006.