The Blue Bulls were the biggest disappointment of this year’s U18 Craven Week, writes KAMVA SOMDYALA.
The Bulls, who have not reached a ‘final’ since 2012, were woeful. They were hammered 53-33 by the Sharks, blanked 37-0 by Eastern Province and only managed to beat Border, who lost all of their games, 45-40.
The Bulls team had six players from Waterkloof and seven from Affies, yet struggled to match the physicality of the Sharks and EP.
They were disorganised when they had the ball and were cut to shreds when their defence was breached. Overall, they looked like a poorly coached team.
Only three teams rose to the occasion as a collective – the Golden Lions, Sharks and Free State.
The Lions ended their 12-year Craven Week drought when they beat the in-form Sharks 45-18.
The Lions had drawn 13-13 with Western Province in their second match, but progressed to the ‘final’ ahead of WP (the defending champions) as they were hosting the tournament.
Free State and the Sharks went into the final day with 100% winning records and many will argue that they deserved to contest the ‘final’. In fact, the young Cheetahs beat WP on the last day to finish with three wins, while the Lions finished with two wins and a draw.
Border Country Districts continued to make up the numbers, while there was a mixed bag of results for teams such as Boland, Griffons Country Districts and Eastern Province Country Districts.
There were no shock results this year, apart from Eastern Province’s 27-22 loss to SWD on day two.
Craven Week is dubbed as a week in which the best of South Africa’s up-and-coming rugby talent is on display. It provides a platform for national and provincial scouts to identify South Africa’s future rugby heroes. Unfortunately, there was little to choose from this year.
The Sharks had scrumhalf Sanele Nohamba, who ran the show, and abrasive No 8 Phendulani Butelezi, while the Mpeku brothers – Kennedy and Leon – excelled for the Lions. They showcased their skills, rugby awareness and flair and can expect to make it into the SA Schools squad.
However, there were few other standout performers this year, and several will be waiting anxiously for the SA Schools squad announcement.
Photo: Wessel Oosthuizen/Gallo Images