Auntie Avril Fillies spoke to Frankie about his involvement with the Sevens at Stellenbosch Academy of Sport(SAS) and much more.
This coming weekend Kyle Brown will be the new holder of the record of a South African Sevens Player that played more than 68 tournaments, previously held by Frankie Horne.
Frankie played nine years for the SA Sevens team and was a member of the team that won the HSBC Sevens Series the first time in 2007/8 and is a Gold Medal recipient of the Commonwealth Games in 2014 in Glasgow.
He is currently the Head of SAS Sevens and is sharing his wealth of rugby knowledge to players between the ages of 18 to 25.
Avril: What is your goal with the new venture?
Frankie: I am trying to strengthen and support the SA Sevens System and am giving as many players as possible the necessary exposure and opportunity to make it in sevens. Many players disappears or aren’t considered because they are in an environment where the focus is solely on 15’s.
Coaches look only at your height, weight and size and do not focus on teaching the players the necessary skills of sevens. I am trying to give players the chance to rediscover themselves and to assist . the SA Sevens System.
Avril:Why the focus on 7’s?
Frankie: Besides the fact that I played the biggest part of my professional career as a sevens player, I have a lot of knowledge of sevens and sevens is my passion.
Sevens is a big challenge and bring the best out in any player. Most players can attack but do not know how to defend and don’t have the ability to play under pressure and in the high intensity of World Sevens.
You have to be a hard worker, acquire all the skills and if you achieved this, then you can be an attribute to all codes of rugby in the world. Players like Kwagga Smith and Cheslin Kolbe are outstanding ambassadors for sevens, they not only shut up critics but give hope to small players. This is why I opted to try and make a difference at SAS.
Avril: What are you personally contributing to players at SAS?
Frankie: Despite my nine years experience in sevens I know how to communicate with players and know what are the requirements to compete globally on the international stage. My model at SAS is to give players as many options as possible.
It is an honour to represent your country and not every player gets that chance. I try to get players to play sevens overseas, that opens the avenue to study further, you experience a new culture of another country and if you are good enough you’ll get a contract with a club or union.
Avril: How long is the training programme?
Frankie: The programme is for five months and falls in the same period as the American Summer Series and the English Summer Series and usually starts in June.
I am in contact with a few ‘partnered’ clubs and I provide players to represent the clubs in competitions. We don’t offer contracts or remuneration, we just give players the opportunity to show what they can do and if they are good enough the clubs will take it further.
There are currently players overseas that is studying at institutions and also playing and one player has a Major League Rugby contract and another one a work visa to play and work overseas. As said before, I want to give players opportunities.
Avril: What does the programme consist of?
Frankie: Intensive conditioning, training and educating of sevens, tendencies, patterns and structures. We focus on individuals and groups, coaches to make the programme a success, we invite specialists and consultants of speed and stepping to assist as well as life skills trainers.
The players stay with the Blitzboks and SA U20 team at SAS, the hub of rugby in SA. I am also privileged to have physio and conditioning team of SAS at my disposal. They are Nadia Clenzos, Johan van Wyk and Llewellyn Morkel who knows exactly what is needed to fit in with the standards and requirements of the SA Sevens.
Avril: Is SAS Academy part of the SA Sevens and SA Academy teams?
Frankie: SAS has an agreement with the Sevens group and SAS Sevens is under the auspices of Saru and is not a subsidiary of Saru and a feeder academy of the South African Rugby Union. We work closely together and we try to be in line with their standards and requirements to strengthen them and give more players the chance to play sevens.
Being with them I have the privilege to watch their training sessions, new tendencies and attend some of the training sessions to keep us on par with what is happening in the sevens world.
The Blitzboks have a challenging schedule and there is no time for chit-chat but whenever I have a chance I’ll ask the coaches, Neil Powell and Marius Schoeman, if they need players in specific positions and which areas should be focused on more. Marius is also the head of sevens and he helps to stimulate the players and set up match situations where rules are explained in certain situations.
Avril: Do the SAS team compete against other teams?
Frankie: We are in the process of a mini tournament and training week where international teams visit SAS as their preparation to play against the SA Academy and the SAS teams.
This is part of the overseas teams to prepare for Hong Kong or to qualify for the HSBC Sevens Series.
Countries like Ireland, France, Germany and Uruguay will play against us and the Academy team.
Frankie played under coaches such as Denver Wannies, Maree Bester, Paul Treu and Neil was his roommate and captain till his retirement.
He also played with Paul Delport who is the current coach of the Ladyblitzboks.
He does not miss the conditioning, but the players, playing and the friendships that he made through the years.
“We still have contact with each other and the Las Vegas tournament will always be special because that was a good hunting ground in my playing days.
With this new venture I don’t have a lot of time for hobbies, but enjoy angling and hunting. I am a registered professional
hunter and am a partner in a hunting business Hunt Safari. The only time that I am angling is when Werner Kok is on leave and we sail on our kayaks on the sea.
He usually beats all of us if he is not in the water,” Frankie chuckled.