Springbok Sevens legend Cecil Afrika has stepped down from international sevens duty.
Afrika, 32, ended his official Blitzboks journey on Monday after 12 seasons with the national side.
Though he admitted he hadn’t quite given up on his Olympic dream, unless called upon, South Africa’s highest points’ scorer said he would not don the Blitzboks colours again after a mutual agreement between the player and Springbok Sevens management.
“The Covid-19 pandemic we are currently facing is definitely not something anyone wished for and was certainly not expected, and as much as it has re-arranged and possibly unsettled my Olympic 2020 chances, it is a dream deferred and not cancelled,” Afrika said.
“As management has mentioned, the possibility remains should the opportunity to play in [next year’s Tokyo Olympics] present itself. I am always ready to play should the Blitzboks need me.”
The former World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year bowed out after 345 World Rugby Sevens Series matches and a points tally of 1 462.
Afrika, who made his debut in Dubai in 2009, played in his final and 66th tournament for his country in Vancouver in March this year.
He was part of two World Rugby Sevens Series-winning Blitzbok squads, in 2017 and 2018, as well as the South African team that won Commonwealth Games gold (2014) and Olympic bronze (2016) medals.
“It is one of those inevitable things in professional sport, but even so, it remains a sad day to say goodbye to Cecil when his contract expires,” said Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell.
“He has been a great of the game, his achievements speak for themselves and he inspired many to enjoy the game of sevens.
“I played with Cecil when he made his debut in 2009 and, in the last couple of years, had the privilege of coaching him as well. He was a truly gifted player who came back from some serious injuries more than once to achieve amazing feats as a player and squad member.”