Legendary South African Sevens playmaker Cecil Afrika will step down when his contract expires with the Blitzboks and will not run our for the side again unless called upon.
Afrika (32) brought a close to a glittering 12-year journey which saw him light up the world circuit numerous times including a devastating season in 2010/11 where he ran in 40 tries as the leading try scorer of the series.
The hot-stepper appeared in 66 tournaments over his career, winning two HSBC World Sevens titles, a Commonwealth Gold (2014) and an Olympic Bronze medal (2016).
Blitzboks coach Neil Powell opened up on the impact the player had on the team on an SA Rugby official release.
“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 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.
Although officially retired, Afrika said that he is open to a return should the team need him in the future.
“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,”
“Being part of the Springbok Sevens has been a truly and incredible time of my career and the Blitzboks will forever be family and home.
“I cannot go without saying a massive thank you to the supporters. I always appreciate their unrelenting and continued support, encouragement and the part they play in making this sport as spectacular as it is. Hopefully they will continue to support me wherever I go.”
“As management has mentioned, the possibility remains should the opportunity to play in the 2021 Olympics present itself. I am always ready to play should the Blitzboks need me.
“Aside from keeping-up my professional fitness to stay prepared for opportunities that may avail themselves, I also plan to be more involved in skills training within rugby and overall sports development initiatives.
“I believe I can definitely add value from my experience and I would love to be a part of that, not only as a player on the field, but also on the other side of the white lines, as I have rather a great passion for contributing to the components related to the game in other forms such as analysis and coaching.