After a two-year hiatus due to Covid-19 related regulations, Craven Week, the premier school rugby competition, is back in action.
Rondebosch Boys’ High School will play hosts in this year’s instalment and there is lots of excitement around as the best the country has to offer in school rugby get ready to go head to head.
The week-long programme, which runs from Sunday July 3 to Saturday July 9, is seen as the pathway to finding the next generation of Springboks.
Western Province have had solid runs in the competition and are expected to again flex their muscles with a strong squad led by Zachary Porthen from Wynberg Boys’ High.
The WP team is made up of seven players from Paarl Boys’ High, five from Paarl Gimnasium, four from the hosting Rondebosch Boys’ High, three from Wynberg with other representatives coming from Paul Roos Gimnasium, Boland Landbou and Milnerton.
WP under-18 coach Clinton van Rensburg said after two years of no participation it is really good to be back and the experience of Craven Week is much needed to players as they take their first steps towards professional rugby.
“It’s really significant for the boys for their experience and the exposure of competing on a national stage. This is such an historic event, all boys grow up dreaming of playing Craven week and representing their province. This is the first step of their journey,” said Van Rensburg.
“It’s such an honour to work with the cream of the top of the province.The talent is there for sure, the importance of playing in the Craven is getting them to gel together.“
Porthen said although it puts pressure on him, he is excited to be trusted as the captain of the side and it is a challenge he is willing to take head on.
“To be captain of any rugby team is massive and to be captain of a WP side is really an honour. It’s a massive role that I’m going to have to fulfil.
“I’m just excited to be playing with these really exciting players. This is a new chapter of my life and I am excited about it.”
Hosting the event in Rondebosch also adds an extra bit of excitement for Van Rensburg as the school also celebrates its 125th anniversary this year.
Van Rensburg coaches the school’s rugby side.
“It’s great being at home with the support we have. The conditions will hopefully favours us; most guys travelling are playing on hard fast tracks without rain,” he said.
Van Rensburg says the expectation is always huge on WP and teams playing against the side always lift themselves and look to cause an upset, so they need to prepare well.
“I say it’s like baking the cake, putting all the ingredients together and when the pressure of Craven Week arrives, to see that cake rise is a wonderful experience;” adds Van Rensburg.
WP’s first game is against Border on Monday afternoon.