Mon, 06 Jul 2020

former team-mate and Blitzboks captain, .

"We all want to be around as long as possible, but you never know when you're going to go. Very few walk away from sport on their own terms.

"Covid-19 obviously played a part, and I don't know what happened in the Sevens camp or what plans they've got, but in my view, he still had the legs for it.

"I've never coached sevens at such a high level ... so those guys plan long-term and you've got to do the right thing, even if it might not seem right to the public. You've got to make a call on what you think is good for the strength of your team.

"My mate Frankie Horne was also unlucky ahead of the previous Olympics (Rio 2016). His name was cast in stone but when it came to the Olympic year he struggled and as a result never made it. That's sport for you, I guess."

More than anything, Mbiyozo lauded Afrika's character, saying he was one of the genuinely good guys of the game, something surpassing even his superstar achievements on the field.

"There's a saying among sports team-mates that goes: You don't remember how good a guy was as a player, you remember how good he was as a person," he said.

"I played a season with Cecil and we subsequently became friends and we talk from time to time. He's a genuinely good person and there aren't too many of those floating around.

"When I heard of his retirement, the first thing that came to my mind was, I remember this kid's first tournament.

"I remember thinking to myself, holy s**t, here's a new guy that's just stepped into the team and he's just taken over. The more you trained with him and the better he got, you only realised how genuine of a good person he was."

Afrika bowed out after becoming South Africa's highest ever Sevens international points scorer (1 462) and having played major roles in two World Series titles (2017 and 2018) as well as Commonwealth Games gold and Olympic bronze medals.

Mbiyozo added: "Someone said Cecil Afrika was the best player they had seen in Sevens outside of Fiji and that's one hell of a compliment. And it shows what kind of influence he's had in the game."

More Africa News

Access More

Sign up for The Africa News

a daily newsletter full of things to discuss over drinks.and the great thing is that it's on the house!