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
1971KimberleyWestern Province11–0Griqualand West
1972PotchefstroomWestern Province16–9Western Transvaal
1973StellenboschWestern Province36–7Transvaal
1974JohannesburgWestern Province22–12South Western Districts
1975PretoriaEastern Province46–13Natal
1976WolmaransstadBoland13–9Free State
1977OudtshoornEastern Province19–17Western Province
1978MiddelburgWestern Province12–3Free State
1979East LondonNorthern Free State9–6Free State
1980StellenboschFree State16–6Transvaal
1981WorcesterTransvaal11–7Western Province
1982WindhoekSouth Eastern Transvaal25–7Northern Free State
1983UpingtonFree State13–9South Eastern Transvaal
1984BloemfonteinTransvaal3–0Eastern Province
1985WitbankFree State23–15Transvaal
1986Graaff-ReinetSouth Eastern Transvaal19–12Western Province
1987PaarlNatal / Transvaal22–22N/A
1988Port ElizabethWestern Province16–3Free State
1989JohannesburgTransvaal17–6Eastern Province
1990DurbanNatal18–8Northern Transvaal
1991East LondonNorthern Transvaal10–9Border
1992PretoriaWestern Province22–15Free State
1993SecundaNorthern Transvaal25–13South Eastern Transvaal
1994NewcastleBorder / Eastern Province13–13N/A
1995BloemfonteinFree State15–13Boland
1996StellenboschNorthern Transvaal24–12Western Province
1997KimberleyNorthern Transvaal29–27Western Province
1998VanderbijlparkGriqualand West32–21Western Province
1999GeorgeWestern Province15–11Eastern Province
2000Port ElizabethPumas19–18Boland
2001RustenburgSWD26–20Blue Bulls
2002PietermaritzburgWestern Province31–16Free State
2003WellingtonWestern Province22–17Free State
2004NelspruitFree State17–16Western Province
2005BloemfonteinGolden Lions38–15Eastern Province
2006JohannesburgBlue Bulls35–20Golden Lions
2007StellenboschFree State52–3Western Province
2008PretoriaSWD31–25Free State
2009East LondonWestern Province19–17Free State
2010WelkomFree State42–21Western Province
2011KimberleyFree State28–17Lions
2012Port ElizabethBlue Bulls46–0Lions
2013PolokwaneWestern Province45–29Lions
2014MiddelburgEastern Province25–7South Western Districts
2015StellenboschWestern Province95–0Eastern Province