There are few names that are as synonymous with sevens rugby as Cecil Afrika. 

Once described as ‘The Dreadlocked Assassin’, The South African playmaker not only brings his wealth of experience to The Co-Optimists, but also his abundance of talent, skill and overall ‘je ne sais pas’ that confuses both attacking and defensive formations alike.


Speaking about The Melrose Sevens, Afrika commented that he’s really excited at the prospect of playing in the same location, at the same tournament as the game of sevens originated. He stated that he’s nervous about the unknown, as well as the potential weather conditions, but is relishing in the challenge of adapting to the structures and playing with a team that he would’ve only just met.

“I’m looking forward to being a part of it – part of the origin of where the game began.”

Arika also mentioned that he’s heard the anecdotes of previous players about playing at Melrose, with the crowd so close to the pitch – creating an atmosphere almost unrivalled by any location on the sevens circuit. “I’m excited to build some beautiful memories with my new teammates, both on and off the field”.


Arika has been an omnipotent presence on the international sevens circuit since making his debut in the 2009–10 IRB Sevens World Series. A year later he would be named the IRB International Sevens Player of the Year. An award he earned with 40 tries throughout the series with a total of 1462 points. 


Rugby has always been a fundamental part of Arika’s life, reminiscing with fondness of playing on the streets of Missionvale, Gqeberha. An early memory being of Nelson Mandela and Francois Pienaar lifting the William Web Ellis trophy at Ellis Park in 1995.


Having played XVs for the Currie Cup side The Griffons, Afrika was invited to represent the SA Vipers in a sevens tournament in his hometown of Port Elizabeth (now Gqeberha) where he was a standout and was awarded ‘player of the tournament’. The Springbok Sevens coach at the time, Paul Treu, took him aside and told him that he would be joining the Blitzbokke squad at the high-performance training camp in Stellenbosch in preparation for the upcoming Sevens World Series. The career that followed that interaction is now written in rugby folklore all around the world. Afrika is far too modest to think of himself as a rugby legend, but his name will be spoken about in sevens circles for many years to come. And with a career that includes 345 international appearances, 179 tries, 1462 career points, a Commonwealth Games gold medal, an Olympic Games bronze medal, an IRB World Sevens Player of the Year award, and 2 World Sevens Series championships – it’s certainly a fitting description for a man that has dedicated his life to the game of sevens.