Sevens

Afrika: There will always be expectation

Cecil Afrika (Gallo)
Cecil Afrika (Gallo)

Cape Town - 54 tournaments, 279 matches, 1322 points and 152 tries. That is the record of Blitzboks playmaker Cecil Afrika as he heads into this weekend's Cape Town Sevens.

Now 29-years-old, Afrika is an Olympic bronze medalist and considered one of the stalwarts of the Sevens circuit. 

Born in Port Elizabeth, he looks back on the years when his home city used to host the South African leg of the World Rugby Sevens Series with fondness. 

He says Cape Town is "right up there", but there was something special for Afrika about playing in front of his home crowd. 

The Blitzboks are overwhelming favourites to win this weekend following their triumph in Dubai in the first leg of the season, but they will remember 2016 all too well. 

Having cruised through the playoffs, the Blitzboks were stunned by England in the tournament final in front of a packed Cape Town Stadium.

"We are South Africans and we feel strongly about our rugby. We want to meet the expectations of the fans ... there will always be that expectation," Afrika said this week.

"We've got a certain standard that we want to achieve and we are not happy with the way things went in terms of our processes. This week we get another opportunity."

Afrika was referring to how the Blitzboks played in Dubai where, despite their victory, they were left unsatisfied with their performance.

It is a big year for the Blitzboks. In addition to the Sevens Series, they have a Sevens World Cup and the Commonwealth Games in 2018. 

On paper, they should be challenging for honours in every one of those, but Afrika has been around the block enough times to know not to look too far ahead.

"We'll approach it from tournament to tournament," he said.

"If we play well and stay consistent then hopefully we can achieve our goals that we have set for ourselves."

The Blitzboks are pooled alongside France, Russia and Kenya for Saturday's action.

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