How Action Rugby Started

Action Rugby was founded in November 2014.

The original founder Nico Pienaar had a vision to bring the development of rugby to anyone and everyone who want to learn more of this great sport.

Nico is well supported by his wife Claressa Pienaar, also a fan and supporter of the sport.

Nico mentioned his ideas to his then co-coach and friend Andrew Rotherham and they came up with a few ideas as to what the model should look like.

Nico had a chat with Gerhard Kotzee, a life time friend, who was with him in High School, University, and the Military. Gerhard was working for an investment firm as Senior Partner, and mentioned that he may be interested in investing into Rugby in Canada, and more specifically Ontario. More about this in another section.

Action Rugby was registered as an Incorporation with Nico, Claressa, Andrew and Gerhard as the founding Directors.


  • Nico Pienaar is the founder and owner of Action Rugby.
  • Nico has been involved with a number of sports over the years, as an athlete, coach, manager, board member and other supporting roles.
  • Nico wanted to be involved in a developmental, high performance rugby academy shorty after arriving in Canada.
  • Apart from his own achievements playing provincial level junior rugby, cricket, track and field and some other sports, Nico was a South African champion in one of his sports he do not mention a lot. Some of his highlights for rugby are; Coached girls and boys whom eventually ended played for Canada,  teams to win Ontario Provincial championships for 7s and 15s, Silver at the Ontario Summer Games, and coached u15 and u17 Ontario boys.
  • Nico was born in South Africa, with a rugby ball in hand, and started playing at around 6 years old, barefoot, full field, and with a size 5 ball. Some still laugh when he takes of his running shoes to illustrate kicking, or maybe take the athletes for a run. After unsuccessful knocks on the door of provincial senior rugby, and after a severe back injury, he was forced to hang up his rugby boots.
  • Nico returned to play rugby in 2016 for the old boys, with a very successful old boys tour to Ottawa in 2018. Understandably him playing is a low priority, as he have two very active kids, and coaching multiple teams.
  • Nico started his career with the South African Broadcasting Corporation, with training in Sound Studios, Final Control, Language Dubbing, Audio Editing, Video Editing and Outside Broadcasting.
  • Currently working for AT&T as Area Manager Research Technology.
  • Nico also achieved an honours degree in Electrical Engineering at the Witwatersrand University in South Africa, and was registered with the Engineering Council of South Africa.
  • Nico speaks Afrikaans as his first language and English as his second.

  • Claressa Pienaar is a Co-Founder and Owner of Action Rugby.
  • Although Claressa never played formal rugby, a sport that was not really around for women in South Africa when she grew up, she played her first game for the Battle Axes in 2017 and received the MVP award.
  • Claressa played provincial level field hockey and received awards i.e. best player in her final year of high school.
  • South African born, Claressa was exposed to lots of rugby as a fan and a supporter. She is now a rugby mom, videographer, a rugby fanatic’s wife and huge supporter of the sport.
  • Claressa, with her family became Canadian Citizens in 2017.

  • Andrew Rotherham co-founder and Director of Action Rugby.
  • Andrew played for the Canadian u20 team.
  • Andrew completed his 7s Level 1 coaching course.
  • Andrew used to coach the Barbarians girls with Nico, with great success winning Ontario Championships.
  • Nico rate Andrew as one of the best coaches he ever worked with, their coaching philosophies and coaching ethics were on par, and hardly had to discuss program plans, it just happened.

  • Gerhard Kotzee a co-founder and non-executive Director of Action Rugby.
  • Currently a Senior Partner at Clarus Asset Management.
  • Born and live in South Africa (Cape Town).
  • Played rugby with Nico in high school.
  • Gerhard and Nico walked a long road together, friends in High School, overlapping some years in University, and the Military.
  • Worked with his dad in the plutonium industry in South Africa, before spending some time in North Africa in the oil and gas industry.