Craven Week at a New Venue
It’s the second week of July – time for the Craven Week – the 54th Craven Week, the great coming-together of Under-18 provincial teams for three enthusiastic matches in a week. And this year there is a new venue.
The first Craven Week took place in East London in 1964, part of the 75th Jubilee of the South African Rugby Board. It has been played at many venues in South Africa and once in Rhodesia which is now Zimbabwe.
Recently it has become the trend for schools to host the Craven Week – Paul Roos in Stellenbosch in 2015 when it was turning 150. The next year it went to Kearsney College and this year to Paarl Boys’ High School, in Afrikaans Hoër Jongenskool Paarl, founded in 1868 and so celebrating its 150th birthday – a great school which has dominated schools rugby in South African in recent years. In South Africa, they were unbeaten in 2015, 2016 and 2017, the year in which they lost to Christchurch Boys’ High in Christchurch.
Twenty old boys of Paarl Boys’ High have become Springboks, fifth most amongst South African school.
In April the great school hosted an international rugby festival of 10 South African schools and 10 teams from overseas. And now they are hosting Craven Week
Craven Week was held in Paarl in 1987, but not hosted by Boys’ High. That year was significant.
In Middelburg in 1978, Toyota publicly announced that if Craven Week did not follow the policy of racial amalgamation that the SA Rugby Board, the Federation and the Association (previously the SA African Rugby Board) had adopted, they would withdraw their sponsorship. The schools refused to budge but in 1980, in Stellenbosch, Dr Danie Craven forced the change and the Federation and the Association sent teams to Craven Week.
In 1987, players of different races played in the same team for the first time at Craven Week, and since then racial mixing of all teams has grown.
The other big change, happened in 1974 when for the first time a South African Schools team was chosen, as has happened every year since then, to Craven’s chagrin, for he wasted the Craven Week to be a rugby festival, not a competition and not trials for the national team.
Craven Week Venues
1964: East London
1965: East London
1967: Cape Town
1970: Salisbury – now Harare
1978: Middelburg (Transvaal)
1979: East London
1988: Port Elizabeth
1991: East London
1998: Vanderbijl Park
2000: Port Elizabeth
2009: East London
2012: Port Elizabeth
2014: Middelburg (Mpumalanga)
2015: Paul Roos – Stellenbosch
2016: Kearsney – Durban
2017: St Stithians – Johannesburg
2018: Paarl Boys’ High