SA Rugby paid tribute to Frankie Horne for his services to the Springbok Sevens team, after the former Blitzbok captain had decided to retire from rugby at the end of December 2016.
The 33-year-old Horne, whose 68 consecutive tournament appearances is a record for the most appearances for the Blitzboks, was part of the 2008/09 team that won the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, as well as a member of Team SA’s Rugby Sevens squad that won the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in Scotland in 2014.
SA Rugby president, Mr Mark Alexander, said Horne was an inspirational player and captain and his contribution to the Springboks Sevens team will be remembered for many years to come.
“He was one of those guys you could always count on, as the results have shown,” said Mr Alexander.
“Frankie consistently delivered stand-out performances for the team over many seasons and always gave his all. He will be remembered by many fans as one of the guys who embodied what the team was all about. He was skilful, but it was his refusal to take a step back that endeared him with rugby fans across the rugby world.
“We want to thank him for his services to the Springbok Sevens team and wish him well in his career after rugby.”
Horne, who first played for the Springbok Sevens team in the opening tournament of the 2006/07 World Series in Dubai, went on to play in 68 consecutive tournaments for his country. This was not only a South African record, but also a World Rugby record at the time (since passed by James Rodwell of England).
Horne also achieved 14 tournament wins with the team.
Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell said Horne’s longevity as a player stemmed from his professionalism and work ethic.
“I think that the SA record of 68 consecutive tournaments will stand for a long time,” Powell said.
“That is a true testament of Frankie’s fitness and durability over many seasons. He was a real stalwart for so long and the one thing I will always appreciate was Frankie’s determination. He refused to give up, ever. No matter how down we were as a team, he always motivated the players and tried to pick them up again. He will be remembered as one of our great sevens players.
“He was a true professional, always one of the first training and one of the last to leave. He provided the younger generation a lasting footprint of what the culture and ethos of the Springbok Sevens team is all about.”
Horne was grateful for the support over many years.
“I would just like to thank SARU and everyone there for an incredible journey. Playing for the Springbok Sevens team and representing my country at the highest level, has not only been a dream come true, but also my life’s honour. Without the support and backing from SA Rugby, fans, friends and lastly my family this would never have materialized.
“I have been blessed to have met, played with and against some truly amazing individuals and athletes. The game that I love has giving me so much and for that I’m truly thankful. Thank you for all the support throughout the years, through the ups and the downs, even if we never said thanks, it hasn’t gone unnoticed and it means the world to us,” said Horne.