Craven Week – A Historial Overview

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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
Year Venue Winner Score Runner-Up
1971 Kimberley Western Province 11–0 Griqualand West
1972 Potchefstroom Western Province 16–9 Western Transvaal
1973 Stellenbosch Western Province 36–7 Transvaal
1974 Johannesburg Western Province 22–12 South Western Districts
1975 Pretoria Eastern Province 46–13 Natal
1976 Wolmaransstad Boland 13–9 Free State
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
1980 Stellenbosch Free State 16–6 Transvaal
1981 Worcester Transvaal 11–7 Western Province
1982 Windhoek South Eastern Transvaal 25–7 Northern Free State
1983 Upington Free State 13–9 South Eastern Transvaal
1984 Bloemfontein Transvaal 3–0 Eastern Province
1985 Witbank Free State 23–15 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
1989 Johannesburg Transvaal 17–6 Eastern Province
1990 Durban Natal 18–8 Northern Transvaal
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
1995 Bloemfontein Free State 15–13 Boland
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
2000 Port Elizabeth Pumas 19–18 Boland
2001 Rustenburg SWD 26–20 Blue Bulls
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
2008 Pretoria SWD 31–25 Free State
2009 East London Western Province 19–17 Free State
2010 Welkom Free State 42–21 Western Province
2011 Kimberley Free State 28–17 Lions
2012 Port Elizabeth Blue Bulls 46–0 Lions
2013 Polokwane Western Province 45–29 Lions
2014 Middelburg Eastern Province 25–7 South Western Districts
2015 Stellenbosch Western Province 95–0 Eastern Province