BlitzBoks fifty excites Afrika

Sun, 02 Apr 2017 18:29
Large cecil afrika south africa v australia 800

SEVENS SPOTLIGHT: BlitzBoks stalwart Cecil Africa will hit his 50th World Rugby Sevens tournament in Hong Kong.

Afrika scored more than 1200 career points and won tournaments with the Springbok Sevens team all over the world, but getting on the plane with the team for yet another possible title, still excites him tremendously.

The 29-year old playmaker will reach a milestone in Hong Kong next weekend as he plays in his 50th World Rugby Sevens Series tournament - something he admits, he thought would never happen after a serious knee injury picked up at the same venue four years ago.

"A couple of years back I picked up a bad injury in Hong Kong," Afrika said before the Blitzboks departed to Hong Kong via Johannesburg for the seventh tournament of the 2017 World Series.

"Such was the extent of the injury I was told that I would be lucky to get another year out of rugby. Luckily it turned out that the injury was not that bad, and here I am going back to the same venue to play in my 50th tournament. In a way, it is a bittersweet feeling because I thought my career was over when I got injured there, and now I will reach a tournament milestone at the same venue," he smiled.

Only Frankie Horne (68), Chris Dry (58), Kyle Brown (57) and Branco du Preez (51) have achieved this feat.

Afrika, the World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year in 2011, is again in great form and keen to help the team win the Hong Kong title, something they have not achieved since the start of the World Series way back in 1999.

"We can only go out and do our best. We had some good results at other venues, but this one keeps eluding us. We will be keen to change that," Afrika said.

Of making his 50th tournament appearance at this iconic venue, he said. "Ideally, I would have loved to play my 50th in Port Elizabeth in front of my home crowd, but it does not always work like that. Hong Kong's atmosphere is amazing, so I will enjoy the fact that I have achieved something special in a venue like that," said Afrika.

Every time Afrika scores a try or kicks a conversion, he extends his South African career points' scoring record. "I don't keep adding those up when I play. I am pretty pleased every time I score points for the team, as it means we have done something right and I have contributed. That is what it is about, not my records," he said.

Afrika (hamstring) is one of a number of players who was in doubt to make it to Hong Kong, as injuries piled up following the tournaments in Las Vegas and Vancouver last month. Ruhan Nel (ankle), Chris Dry (knee) and Branco du Preez (pectoral muscle) were all cleared to travel on Friday, something Springbok Sevens coach, Neil Powell, admits was not ideal.

"We did not prepare the way we wanted to, as we had to look after some injured players as well as try to improve on our general play. I am still pretty confident in the ability of the squad though, and I think we can give a good account of ourselves, despite the fact that our preparation was not as smooth as usual. This tournament will also provide a solid opportunity for some of the younger guys in the squad and I am keen to see how they progress," Powell said.

The Springbok Sevens team will face France on Friday and Kenya and Japan on Saturday respectively in the pool stages of the competition.

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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Sat, 18 November 2017
Worcester Warriors v Northampton Saints 12h00 Sixways
Italy v Argentina 13h00 Florence
Leicester Tigers v Sale Sharks 14h00 Welford Road
Wales v Georgia 14h30 Cardiff
England v Australia 15h00 Twickenham
Wasps v Newcastle Falcons 15h30 Ricoh Arena
Ireland v Fiji 16h30 Aviva Stadium
Scotland v New Zealand 17h15 Edinburgh
France v South Africa 19h45 Paris
Sun, 19 November 2017
Exeter Chiefs v Harlequins 14h00 Sandy Park
Leicester Tigers v Bath 14h00 Madejski Stadium
Fri, 24 November 2017
Ospreys v Glasgow Warriors 22h00 Liberty Stadium
Ulster v Treviso 18h05 Kingspan Stadium
Leinster v Dragons 18h35 RDS Stadium
Cardiff Blues v Connacht 18h35 Cardiff Arms Park
Newcastle Falcons v Gloucester 18h45 Kingston Park
Leicester Tigers v Worcester Warriors 18h45 Welford Road
Sale Sharks v Northampton Saints 19h00 AJ Bell Stadium
RESULT SCORE
Fri, 17 November 2017
Gloucester v Saracens 23 | 17
Tue, 14 November 2017
France XV v New Zealand 23 | 28
Sat, 11 November 2017
France v New Zealand 18 | 38
Ireland v South Africa 38 | 3
Wales v Australia 21 | 29
England v Argentina 21 | 8
Scotland v Samoa 44 | 38
Italy v Fiji 19 | 10
Sat, 04 November 2017
Cardiff Blues v Zebre 37 | 8
Connacht v Cheetahs 23 | 15
Edinburgh v Ospreys 37 | 10
Barbarians v New Zealand 22 | 31
Kings v Ulster 36 | 43
Japan v Australia 30 | 63
Fri, 03 November 2017
Scarlets v Treviso 20 | 8
SEVENS
MORE LOGS
Pool 0
Team P W D L Pts
Spain Sevens 0 0 0 0 20
Korea Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
Pool 00
Team P W D L Pts
Chile 0 0 0 1 10
Papua New Guinea 0 1 0 0 1
Pool 19
Team P W D L Pts
England Sevens 0 0 0 0 19
Pool 20
Team P W D L Pts
Uganda Sevens 0 0 0 0 2
Pool A
Team P W D L Pts
Fiji Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
Scotland Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
Canada Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
Samoa Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
Pool B
Team P W D L Pts
New Zealand Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
Australia Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
France Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
Pool C
Team P W D L Pts
United States Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
Argentina Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
Japan Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
Pool D
Team P W D L Pts
South Africa Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
Kenya Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
Russia Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
Pool
Team P W D L Pts
Wales Sevens
Hong Kong