Best of the best ready to battle it out at the Craven Week
The cream of schoolboy rugby will again be in action at the Coca-Cola Craven and Coca-Cola Under-18 Academy Weeks at St Stithians College in Randburg this week.
The 20 provincial teams playing in the Craven Week represent the best of schoolboy rugby in the country, while the 26 next best Under-18 sides will be in action in the Academy Week.
This is the 54th staging of the Craven Week, making it the oldest youth tournament in the world. It is widely regarded as one of the main reasons South African rugby manages to produce such prodigious a flow of talented players into the senior ranks of the game.
Close to 300 Springboks have come through the week over the years and just about every member of the current national team played at the Craven Week in their time.
SA Rugby takes these tournaments very seriously and uses them as a talent identification window. South African Schools and South African Schools A teams will be selected at the week and they will play schools internationls against England, Wales and France in August.
Both weeks are festivals, with all the games played as friendlies. The only prize up for grabs is being chosen to play in the week’s “main game” – the final fixture on the programme.
The Golden Lions were in the main game last year, where they lost to Western Province, and are one of the favourites to be there again this year. They begin their campaign against Border in today’s late game.
Western Province have been the most successful team in recent years and are expected to be a force again. They play the Pumas in their opening game this afternoon.
Only the opening round of fixtures are pre-determined, with the matches for the following days arranged after each day’s action. In a move that has puzzled many, the SA Schools committee has put both Western Province and the Golden Lions in the “Monday” group this year, so there is a chance that the two strongest teams will meet each other in their second outings and that one of them will be eliminated from the race for a spot in Saturday’s showpiece concluding game.
The teams play either on Monday or Wednesday or Tuesday and Thursday. Friday is a rest day and all the teams are in action on Saturday.