Craven Week - The usual suspects
The pinnacle of schoolboy rugby gets underway in Bloemfontein from 1-7 July when Grey College plays hosts to 18 provincial teams. We look at a few teams worth keeping your eye on during the festival.
What would a Craven Week be without Western Province being up there as a team to watch, especially after claiming the unofficial 2018 title in Paarl. Interestingly enough though, the bulk of the team (seven) attend Paarl Boys’ High – who are ranked third on our most recent Schools Top 20 rankings.
The team compromises of players from eight different schools, five of which (Paarl Boys, Paarl Gim, Bishops, Paul Roos and Boland Landbou) are all ranked inside our Top 20 – which shows the strength of schoolboy rugby in the province. The only question is, can they gel fast enough to dominate like they are expected?
Home ground advantage is not the only thing working in favour of the Free State, as 17 of their team members are from host school Grey College. The only question that needs be answered though is whether or not they can live up to the expectations.
Year in and year out, Grey College has the majority of representatives in the Free State side and look like a solid outfit on paper, however, they flatter to deceive and end up falling short once the whistle blows. It must be known that Grey College remain unbeaten this season and with that as a build-up to the festival, the home team should be a force.
What a difference a year makes for the coastal team in terms of selections. The 2018 “finalists” were made up of majority Glenwood players, however, this year the usual strong representation is no more. Just three Glenwood players managed to crack the nod, with the majority of players (six) coming from Northwood and Westville.
Northwood and Westville are currently in the pressure group of our Top 20, while Glenwood is ranked 15th. The remainder of the team comes from unranked schools – Maritzburg College, Kearsney and Hilton. We needn’t wait long to see them in action as they close off the opening day’s matches against hosts the Free State.
Western Province XV
The so-called second team was one of three teams that ended the 2018 Craven Week unbeaten. Paarl seems to be a hotbed for Western Province talent as the majority of this team is taken up by learners from Paarl Gymnasium, who are ranked second on our Top 20.
On paper, this team looks very strong and should be a contender to play in the unofficial final match on Saturday, 6 July – something some supporters believed should have happened at the 2018 Craven Week.
After a below-par showing at the 2018 Craven Week, the Golden Lions would want to give a better performance to prove they are once again one of the best Unions at the festival. While they may have won two of their three matches (only loss being to Western Province on Day Three), the fact that they were not in the main game on Day Five would have hurt.
Once again, the bulk of the team come from Jeppe – who are not ranked in our Top 20. KES, ranked 18th, have four players in the team while Helpmekaar (11th) and Monument (seventh) have three players each.