Kyle Brown has hailed Frankie Horne’s contribution to sevens as he is set to equal his Blitzboks record of 68 tournaments in Wellington this weekend.
If Brown gets a run against Kenya in South Africa’s opening match, it will mark the 68th time that he represents his country in the World Rugby Sevens Series, equalling the mark set between 2007 and 2015 by Horne. Provided that he comes through the New Zealand tournament unscathed, Brown will set a new mark in Sydney next weekend.
However, Brown says it is Horne’s contribution to the Blitzboks rather than any record that denotes him as a personal inspiration.
‘What Frankie did was truly remarkable, but for me the significance of his contribution to Springbok Sevens as a whole outweighs any record he has set.
‘I was privileged to play in many, many tournaments with Frankie and was in fact inspired by him to take up the game. He was setting standards from way out and changed the way playing for the Blitzboks was seen. His decision to focus solely on sevens as a career helped me to make the same call when I needed to, and to be able to play with him for so long in the forwards was a joy.’
Brown could have broken and even set a new record earlier in his career, but two successive knee injuries in 2016 and 2018 delayed this.
‘These injuries made me realise how significant Frankie’s record was – he played for eight consecutive years and it took me 10 to reach the same mark.
‘For me, they are the real heroes in any story. People such as [head of performance] Johan van Wyk and [physiotherapist] Nadia Clenzos do wonders to get us back on to the field. Rugby, as a contact sport, means injuries, but they work 24/7 to get the guys back on the field as soon as possible again.
‘In the beginning, winning was everything, but playing with a smile on my face has been the biggest reward in the last couple of years. This is really such a great honour and privilege to be able to do this.’
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images