The Craven Week is an annual rugby union tournament organised for schoolboys. The tournament started in July 1964, and is named after the legendary Springbok rugby union player and coach Dr Danie Craven.
The tournament has its humble beginnings in an idea by Piet Malan, then Springbok flanker, in 1949, around the time of SARU's 75th anniversary. He wanted schools to feature in the celebrations and approached Dr Craven on how this could be done.
Dr Craven took the idea to his board who decided on getting the 15 schools unions together for a week. The man who kept the idea alive however was one Jan Preuyt, a former student at the University of Stellenbosch and teacher at Port Rex Technical School. Preuyt had played rugby for Griquas and was also the chairman of Border Schools.
At the time there was no such thing as a South African Schools organisation, and the South African Rugby Board were not involved, so Preuyt and Border Schools arranged the first Craven Week tournament on their own. The East London union then put on the first-ever Craven Week in July 1964 to which 15 school unions sent representative teams. The idea of selecting a schoolboy side to represent a province was new. Western Province solved the problem by inviting its long-standing schools to nominate players and cobbled together a provincial side.
The first Craven Week teams came from Boland, Border, Eastern Province, Eastern Transvaal, Griqualand West, Natal, North Eastern Cape, Northern Transvaal, Orange Free State, Rhodesia, South West Africa, South Western Districts, Transvaal, Western Province and Western Transvaal.
By 1987 Craven Week had 28 participating teams, by 2000 there were 32 and threatened to keep growing. The authorities saw it was necessary to revert to the earlier format and in 2001 20 teams were listed, representing 14 provinces and four regional teams plus visiting international sides from Namibia and Zimbabwe.
In 1974 the first national schools team was chosen, albeit against Danie Craven's wishes as he believed Craven Week should remain a festival and not a not a competition or form of trials. He was over-ruled and since 1974 a national team has been selected on the back of Craven Week.
The competition has been open to players of all races since 1980 when Craven himself requested that it be done. The competition has since become a hunting ground for talent scouts trying to find the best new players for their provinces and many young upcoming stars see the tournament as an opportunity to further their careers.
Until two years ago, selection was done by Craven Week schools selectors. In 2010 two teams were chosen; the Craven Week team and a second “high performance team”. This year a group of 44 players will be chosen to play in trials later in the month and from this a national squad will be selected to run on in South African jerseys against France, England and Wales later in the year.
Currently the tournament is known as the "Coca-Cola Craven Week" with The Coca Cola Company as the main sponsor of the event.
|Main matches at the Craven Week|
|1971||Kimberley||Western Province||11–0||Griqualand West|
|1972||Potchefstroom||Western Province||16–9||Western Transvaal|
|1974||Johannesburg||Western Province||22–12||South Western Districts|
|1977||Oudtshoorn||Eastern Province||19–17||Western Province|
|1978||Middelburg||Western Province||12–3||Free State|
|1979||East London||Northern Free State||9–6||Free State|
|1982||Windhoek||South Eastern Transvaal||25–7||Northern Free State|
|1983||Upington||Free State||13–9||South Eastern Transvaal|
|1986||Graaff-Reinet||South Eastern Transvaal||19–12||Western Province|
|1987||Paarl||Natal / Transvaal||22–22||N/A|
|1988||Port Elizabeth||Western Province||16–3||Free State|
|1991||East London||Northern Transvaal||10–9||Border|
|1992||Pretoria||Western Province||22–15||Free State|
|1993||Secunda||Northern Transvaal||25–13||South Eastern Transvaal|
|1994||Newcastle||Border / Eastern Province||13–13||N/A|
|1996||Stellenbosch||Northern Transvaal||24–12||Western Province|
|1997||Kimberley||Northern Transvaal||29–27||Western Province|
|1998||Vanderbijlpark||Griqualand West||32–21||Western Province|
|1999||George||Western Province||15–11||Eastern Province|
|2002||Pietermaritzburg||Western Province||31–16||Free State|
|2003||Wellington||Western Province||22–17||Free State|
|2004||Nelspruit||Free State||17–16||Western Province|
|2005||Bloemfontein||Golden Lions||38–15||Eastern Province|
|2006||Johannesburg||Blue Bulls||35–20||Golden Lions|
|2007||Stellenbosch||Free State||52–3||Western Province|
|2009||East London||Western Province||19–17||Free State|
|2010||Welkom||Free State||42–21||Western Province|
|2012||Port Elizabeth||Blue Bulls||46–0||Lions|
|2014||Middelburg||Eastern Province||25–7||South Western Districts|
|2015||Stellenbosch||Western Province||95–0||Eastern Province|