Last weekend, a report stated that the Craven Week’s existence is under threat because SA Rugby is struggling to find a headline sponsor for the annual event. Finances are tight in SA’s depressed economy, although you’d have to argue that SA Rugby is in one of the better positions to attract sponsors. The Springboks’ World Cup triumph has skyrocketed local rugby’s brand value in general, while the Craven Week itself is a superficially attractive product. If you ignore all the technical and purist-based arguments against the tournament, it’s a very entertaining showcase – talented schoolboys engaging in fun-to-watch, running rugby....
Last weekend, a report stated that the Craven Week’s existence is under threat because SA Rugby is struggling to find a headline sponsor for the annual event.

Finances are tight in SA’s depressed economy, although you’d have to argue that SA Rugby is in one of the better positions to attract sponsors.

The Springboks’ World Cup triumph has skyrocketed local rugby’s brand value in general, while the Craven Week itself is a superficially attractive product.

If you ignore all the technical and purist-based arguments against the tournament, it’s a very entertaining showcase – talented schoolboys engaging in fun-to-watch, running rugby.

Should SA Rugby not be able to find someone to bankroll the event, you’ve got to start questioning its personnel’s bargaining skills.

However, if one starts adopting a more holistic, developmental view, one could actually make a pretty decent case for not being too worried about the tournament being canned.

The strict racial targets will always remain a bone of contention, we simply can’t ignore that.

SA Rugby can’t be blamed for trying to maximise opportunities for players of colour, but the weakness of the country’s school system means there are going to be players who are out of their depth.

There’s also a distinct bias towards picking players from the traditional big schools.

It’s all good and well picking predominantly Affies, Glenwood, Monument, Grey College, Selborne, Welkom Gim and Oakdale players in your squad. But it does run the risk of letting other talented players from “smaller” schools fall through the cracks.

Take a look at the stars in this year’s Springbok World Cup squad.

Pieter-Steph du Toit was schooled at Swartland, Makazole Mapimpi at Jim Mvabaza, Lukhanyo Am at De Vos Malan, Lood de Jager at Hugenote, Cheslin Kolbe at Brackenfell, Franco Mostert at Brits and Elton Jantjies at Florida. Those aren’t “big” schools.

School-based events such as Wildeklawer, North-South, Easter festivals and FNB classic clashes showcased far better rugby … and ultimately a better gauge of talent roaming the school fields.

Craven Week gets it all wrong_1

Heinz Schenk. Picture: Michel Bega

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