While writing this article, I was thinking of the most appropriate adjective to describe to loss of Cecil Afrika to the BlitzBokke steup. “Big” seemed to mild while “huge” and “massive” just didn’t do it for me. For the South Africans reading this, reading my chosen adjective will tell you exactly just how big the setback is. For the non-South Africans… just think “humongous.”
For, while the new, inexperienced additions to the Springboks were cutting their teeth on the World Series circuit in Dubai a week ago and George this past weekend, it was Cecil Afrika who so ably kept the scoreboard ticking over. I should add that the flyer was most impressively assisted by his own captain courageous Kyle Brown who scored some exciting 5-pointers himself.
I first saw Cecil Afrika “live” at the Cathay Pacific/Credit Suisse Hong Kong Sevens earlier this year.
I attended the post-tournament dinner and the flyer hobbled past me as he had injured an ankle or something on the last day of the tournament. Cecil was relatively new to the team and was still cutting his teeth in what scribes like to call “the abbreviated form of” the game.
Fast forward to December 2010 and Cecil Afrika has been transformed, almost instantaneously into one of the “ou manne” or veterans in the Springbok Sevens setup. That’s because coach Paul Treu had included a whole lot of young, exciting but inexperienced players in the squad that competed in the first two tournaments of the HSBC Sevens World Series.
And the “Boytjie from PE” did not disappoint in his new role.
Top scorer in Dubai a week ago (72 points) he followed that up with yet another chart-topping 55 points in George this past weekend.
However, that is where the good news ends.
In their final encounter against Argentina in the Plate Final at Outeniqua Park yesterday, Cecil fractured his cheekbone. An injury that will require several months of care and medical treatment.
“It is a massive setback,” Treu said afterwards, “We think we may lose him for a couple of months but we will have to wait for the scan to come back.”
Hopefully Cecil Afrika will heal in good time for another Hong Kong Sevens next year.
Take care, Boet.
In unison. Cecil, together with Branco Du Preez: dangerous! (Pic: Getty Images)