Durban, 3 July, 2014.
The U13 Coca-Cola Craven Week is in it’s 51st year of existence and you have to wonder how many of the people attending the festival at Glenwood Boys’ High School know why it has been named in honour of SA Rugby president, Dr Danie Craven, and what his intended legacy for the event was.
When Craven opened the first U18 Coca-Cola Craven Week in East London in 1964 he said: “The board wants the game to be played in the right spirit. This includes: attacking, adventurous, open, constructive rugby, without the interference of the result, and without distracting from the game. If the schoolboys can accept this spirit, it will extend to our national approach, to the benefit of all.”
The game has changed enormously since then. The teams are far better prepared and the entire approach to rugby is far more professional but there’s no question than Craven’s call for attacking, adventurous rugby is being answered in Durban this week.
Craven was also at pains to stress that this is a festival. There are no log points kept, and no overall winners or losers. What has emerged is the phenomenon of the “main game” – the week’s concluding fixture – with the honour of playing in it reserved for the two teams that play the most attractive, effective rugby during the week.
Thys Bezuidenhout, chairman of SA Schools Rugby, explains that it’s quite a task to draw up the daily fixtures. “We cannot know, going into the week, who the top sides are going to be, so the first day’s matchups are a bit of a lottery, but after that we sit down at the end of each day and try to match strength vs strength. The number of exciting, close games we have had here shows that we have got it pretty much right,” he said.
It’s easier to decide on the main game at the U13 Coca-Cola Craven Week that it is at the other Coca-Cola Youth Weeks because the primary schools play four matches at the week, not three like the older players do.
That means that, by the end of the week, it’s unlikely that too many teams will have won all three prior encounters. So, the main game will probably feature the two “A section” teams who are unbeaten at that stage.
The final day feature that you can bet on each year – and that applies to U13 Coca-Cola Craven Week, the U16 Coca-Cola Grant Khomo Week and the U18 Coca-Cola Craven Week – is that Namibia and Zimbabwe will meet for the annual schools “international.”
Bezhuidenhout explains that the participation of our neighbours at these events is in line with SA Rugby’s commitment to developing the game in Africa. “We will always invite them to our weeks and they see it as a highlight of their year,” he said.
“SARU and Dr. Craven’s objectives coincide perfectly with Coca-Cola’s objective of getting kids to lead a active and healthy lifestyle,” explains Fetsi Mbele, Coca-Cola South Africa Marketing Assets Manager
The final day games will be played at King’s Park on Friday and, irrespective of who meets who, it’s going to be feast of running rugby in a world-famous arena. Danie Craven would have approved.
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