Whether hurtling for the try line or diving into tackles, the sight of Cecil Afrika’s whipping dreadlocks is a terrific sight on Sevens rugby fields around the world. A mere 70kg, Afrika last represented South Africa in the 15-man game at age-group level but his hair-trigger bursts of speed, unpredictable attacking lines and fearless scrambling in defence have made him the heroic face of the Springbok Sevens team. Since debuting for the Blitzbokke in Dubai in 2009, Afrika has won Commonwealth bronze at the 2010 Games in India, finished top try-scorer in the 2010/11 Sevens World Series (dotting down no fewer than 40 times) and was named the International Rugby Board (IRB) Sevens Player of the Year in 2011. This year the smiley flyhalf’s leadership was recognised with roles as ambassador for both the IRB’s Keep Rugby Clean campaign against doping and South Africa’s Olympic team for the 2012 Games in London.
— Ian Macleod