Last Matches at Craven Week, 1971-2019
The teams in this year’s prestigious last match of the 2019 Craven Week will be between Western Province and the Blue Bulls, the third time they have met in this match.
In 1971, for the first time, two Craven Week teams, chosen as the best performers on the first four days of the week, were chosen to play in the final match of the Craven Week.
It is a final only in the sense of being the last as it is not a final to determine the champion. There is still no official winner of the Craven Week but getting into the last match, which is between the two teams ranked best, is certainly a competitive carrot.
Ironically, it was one of two things that Dr Craven did not want that have become entrenched.
In 1964 when he and his board acceded to the late Piet Malan’s idea of establishing such a week to fit in with the 75th anniversary celebrations of the SA Rugby Board, Craven agreed but insisted that Craven Week should be a rugby festival, not a competition.
Craven also did not want a South African Schools side selected from Craven Week. The week was not meant to be trials.
Since 1974 a South African Schools team has been selected. Since 1971 the team that wins the last match has been regarded as the unofficial winner of Craven Week.
They played against the Blue Bulls twice, back in the days when they were still Northern Transvaal.
So far there have been 48 such last/final matches. In this the 49th matches, Western Province will be playing for the 25th time. Of their 24 appearances in the match Western Province have won 15 times but they lost both their matches to Northern Transvaal – 24-12 in 1996 and 29-27 in 1997.
The Blue Bulls appeared in five finals as Northern Transvaal and another three times as the Blue Bulls. They have won six of their eight appearances.
Final Matches down the Years
1971: Western Province vs Griqualand West, 11-0 in Kimberley
1972: Western Province vs Western Transvaal, 16-9 in Potchefstroom
1973: Western Province vs Transvaal, 36-7 in Stellenbosch
1974: Western Province vs South Western Districts, 22-12 in Johannesburg
1975: Eastern Province vs Natal, 46-13 in Pretoria
1976: Boland vs Free State, 13-9 in Wolmaransstad
1977: Eastern Province vs Western Province, 19-17 in Oudtshoorn
1978: Western Province vs Free State, 12-3 in Middelburg
1979: Northern Free State vs Free State, 9-6 in East London
1980: Free State vs Transvaal, 16-5 in Stellenbosch
1981: Transvaal vs Western Province, 11-7 in Worcester
1982: South Eastern Transvaal vs Northern Free State, 15-7 in Windhoek
1983: Free State vs South Eastern Transvaal, 13-9 in Upington
1984: Transvaal vs Eastern Province, 3-0 in Bloemfontein
1985: Free State vs Transvaal, 23-15 in Witbank
1986: South Eastern Transvaal vs Western Province, 19-12 in Graaff-Reinet
1987: Natal vs Transvaal, 22-22 in Paarl
1988: Western Province vs Free State, 16-3 in Port Elizabeth
1989: Transvaal vs Eastern Province, 17-6 in Johannesburg
1990: Natal vs Northern Transvaal, 16-8 in Durban
1991: Northern Transvaal vs Border, 10-9 in East London
1992: Western Province vs Free State, 22-15 in Pretoria
1993: Northern Transvaal vs South Eastern Transvaal, 25-13 in Secunda
1994: Border vs Eastern Province, 13-13 in Newcastle
1995: Free State vs Boland, 15-13 in Bloemfontein
1996: Northern Transvaal vs Western Province, 24-12 in Stellenbosch
1997: Northern Transvaal vs Western Province, 29-27 in Kimberley
1998: Griqualand West vs Western Province, 15-11 in Vanderbijlpark
1999: Western Province vs Eastern Province, 15-11 in George
2000: Pumas vs Boland, 19-18 in Port Elizabeth
2001: South Western Districts vs Blue Bulls, 26-20 in Rustenburg
2002: Western Province vs Free State, 31-16 in Pietermaritzburg
2003: Western Province vs Free State, 22-17 in Wellington
2004: Free State vs Western Province, 17-16 in Nelspruit
2005: Golden Lions vs Eastern Province, 38-15 in Bloemfontein
2006: Blue Bulls vs Golden Lions, 35-20 in Johannesburg
2007: Free State vs Western Province, 52-3 in Stellenbosch
2008: South Western Districts vs Free State, 31-25 in Pretoria
2009: Western Province vs Free State, 19-17 in East London
2010: Free State vs Western Province, 42-21 in Welkom
2011: Free State vs Golden Lions, 28-17 in Kimberley
2012: Blue Bulls vs Golden Lions, 46-0 in Port Elizabeth
2013: Western Province vs Golden Lions, 45-29 in Polokwane
2014: Eastern Province vs South Western Districts, 25-7 in Middelburg
2015: Western Province vs Eastern Province, 95-0 in Stellenbosch
2016: Western Province vs Golden Lions, 27-20 in Durban
2017: Golden Lions vs KwaZulu-Natal, 45-18 in Johannesburg
2018: Western Province vs Kwa-Zulu Natal, 47-8 in Paarl
2019: Western Province vs Blue Bulls
There were draws in 1987 and 1994.
The biggest victory in a final match was in 2015 when Western Province beat Eastern Province 95-0.
Northern Transvaal are now Blue Bulls
Natal are now Kwa-Zulu Natal – the Sharks
Orange Free State are now just Free State
South Eastern Transvaal are now Mpumalanga – the Pumas
Transvaal are now Golden Lions