South African star Cecil Afrika is retiring from international Sevens
but the veteran is still holding onto hope of going to a second
Afrika’s contract with the Blitzboks ends after the current season
and he had agreed with coach Neil Powell before this year that it would
be his final contract with the team.
The 32-year-old made his Sevens debut in 2009, playing 66 World Series tournaments including two overall World Series titles.
Afrika was part of South Africa’s 2016 bronze medal-winning squad in Rio and the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games winning squad.
Powell said on Monday night that it would be difficult to say goodbye to one of the biggest names in Sevens.
“It is one of those inevitable things in professional sport, but even
so, it remains a sad day to say goodbye to Cecil when his contract
expires,” he said.
“He has been a great in the game, his achievements speak for itself and he inspired many to enjoy the game of sevens.
“I played with Cecil when he made his debut in 2009 and in the last
couple of years, had the privilege of coaching him as well. He was a
truly gifted player who came back from some serious injuries more than
once to achieve amazing feats as a player and squad member.
“We will say goodbye to him in a more formal way later in the year,
but for now the Springbok Sevens management would like to thank him for
his contributions over the many years he has been with the Blitzboks.
“Cecil has set very high standards for those to follow and there is
no doubt that he will leave the jersey in a better place, something
every international rugby player strives for.”
Powell said the pair had already agreed this would be his final
season before the coronavirus pandemic forced the Olympics to be
“We extended his contract last year in order for him to have a shot
at making the Olympic squad, but with that being postponed to next year,
that option cruelly fell away and is not available anymore.
“We have proper post career guidance in place for all in the squad
and I know Cecil is already dipping into the business world, where he
will be successful, no doubt.”
Afrika said he still hoped there could be an avenue to be part of the 2021 Olympic squad.