Afrika’s splendid rugby run pays off

2011-06-04 17:15

South Africa Sevens star Cecil Afrika’s fantastic season was ­duly recognised when he ­was named on the shortlist of the International Rugby Board’s (IRB) Sevens Player of the Year.

Afrika ended the 2010/11 ­Sevens World Series as the top try-scorer and points-scorer ­despite missing a tournament with a broken jaw.

The 23-year-old ran in an incredible 40 tries, five ahead of his nearest opponent, New Zealand’s Frank Halai, while
Afrika scored 385 points overall, 86 points ahead of another New Zealander, Tomasi Cama.

Afrika will be up against Cama and yet another New Zealander, Tim Mikkelson, for the award when the winner is announced on October 24.

Afrika’s reaction to being nominated for the award was a typically humble one.

“While it is a great honour to be nominated, I regard it as a team nomination because we are a very close group players who play for each other and we are all very proud of representing our country,” he told City Press.

The exciting Afrika played a major role in resurrecting the Blitzbokke’s campaign this year which saw the team claw their way from fifth on the overall points table to eventually finish second behind New Zealand – thanks to winning the last two tournaments of the year.

Afrika said that such a strong finish to the season had been a boost to the whole squad.

“All of us are just so pleased that we could end the season on a high. Credit must go to the coach (Paul Treu) and his management for their good planning and for always driving us to do our best, even when the chips are down or when there is only a few seconds left to play,” he said.

Despite his prowess in sevens rugby, Afrika is also an accomplished fly-half in the 15-man version of the game and turned out for the Premier XV in an ­exhibition match against the Southern Kings yesterday.

The rising star of the sevens world said his immediate focus was still on the sevens.

“I view my invitation to play for Premier XV as a huge honour and I am grateful for the chance, but for now my focus is on Sevens,” he explained.

– MWP Media

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