Blitzbok legend Cecil Afrika retires from international Sevens rugby

FILE PHOTO: South African players (L-R) Seabelo Senatla, Cecil Afrika and Branco du Preez celebrate after win after the final match between South Africa and New Zealand at Ibrox Stadium during day four of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. COURTESY: SA Rugby

Springbok Sevens player Cecil Afrika retired from international sevens rugby following a mutual agreement between the player and Springbok Sevens management.

According to SA Rugby, Afrika’s national contract will expire at the end of July and with no international matches or tournaments scheduled in that period, it effectively ends his international Sevens career. This means his final tournament was the Vancouver Sevens in March in which the Blitzboks finished fourth behind Canada, Australia and New Zealand respectively.

Afrika, who made his debut in 2009, leaves the international stage after 12 seasons having played 345 World Rugby Sevens Series matches in which he racked up 1,462 points.

Afrika was named 2011 World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year and won the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series twice. He also won gold at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and a bronze medal at the 2016 Olympic Games.

Afrika said that being part of the Springbok Sevens was an incredible time of my career noting that he was aware that this period will eventually come.

“Beyond contractual agreements, as a professional athlete, one is always aware of the fact that the time will come that you either stop playing for a team or when retire, and in this instance it only means that I will not be with the Blitzboks,” Afrika said.

Afrika, however, kept the door open for a potential return to the squad to participate in the 2021 Olympics.

“The COVID-19 pandemic we are currently facing is definitely not something anyone wished for and was certainly not expected, and as much as it has re-arranged and possibly unsettled my Olympic 2020 chances, it is a dream deferred and not cancelled,” he said.

Afrika said he will maintain his professional fitness to stay prepared for opportunities that may avail themselves and will be more involved in skills training within rugby and overall sports development initiatives.

Blitzboks coach Neil Powell said that the team will bid Afrika, whom he described as a truly gifted player, farewell in a more formal way later in the year.

“He has been a great in the game, his achievements speak for itself and he inspired many to enjoy the game of sevens.”

Powell revealed that the management extended Afrika’s contract in 2019 to give him a chance at making the Olympic squad but circumstances beyond their control ended that option.

Leave a Reply