The first day of the 2019 u/18 Craven Week kicks off tomorrow morning at Grey College with a lot of excitement promised with some of the top talents in the country playing for their province but with the selection of the two SA Schools' teams most definately in the back of their heads.
Two South African Schools' teams are expected to be announced in the week after the completion of the u/18 Craven Week to play against England, France, Wales and Argentina during August this year. Whereas a contract was a certainty in previous years after being selected for these SA Schools' teams one can expect the majority of these boys playing rugby at universities and clubs in 2020.
Monday sees only four matches played in the "new" format that was adopted in 2018 where only the top provinces in the country compete in the Craven Week. The Lions, Bulls and Western Province will also compete with a second team in the top competition with the Western Province one of the favourites to compete in the 2019 "Final".
10:40 Valke vs Leopards: The Valke will again have a good team with EG Jansen (7) and Transvalia (7) supplying the bulk of the players and should be more than able to beat the Leopards in the first game of the Week. Unfortunately, these two teams will not be competing on the final day in any of the top games. A player to look out for is definately EG Jansen's Juandre Odendaal at flank while the eightman Franco Enslin is also a worth a look.
12:10 Pumas vs SWD: SWD will have too much ammunition for the Pumas who should still be in the game in the first half. Oakdale and Outeniqua have seven players each in the starting lineup of the SWD team and again it is the loosies that gets the most attention with eightman Bennet Nortjé of Outeniqua the go-to man. Corné Rahl from Oakdale at lock and Leon Volschenk at hooker is also worth a look.
13:40 Western Province vs Boland: Although Western Province has a much wider spread of schools representatives in the team they still should win with relative ease. Former Stellenberg boy Dylan de Leeuw (Paul Roos) will be one of the stars of this year's Craven Week with loosie Pierich Siebert (Paarl Gim) a brilliant all-round loosie that is willing to get his hands dirty. One need not say much about Kade Wolhuter with the centre pairing of Boishaai Angelo Osch and Tyler Bocks expected to cause havoc with fullback Tharquin Manuel from Stellenberg very dangerous from the back. Drostdy HTS who is having an "average year" has 10 representatives in the Boland side resulting in not much to be expected from them during the 2019 tournament.
15:40 Free State Cheetahs vs KZN: The Cheetahs with their Grey College spine is a big favourite of the bookies and although the Sharks team cannot claim the same as in previous years from Glenwood, this will definitely be the game of day 1. One wants to discard the Sharks' threat but what must be noted is that they were the first to announce their squad and their preparation will be of a very high standard. The Cheetahs onslaught will be upfront first and with a front row including the names of Jan-Hendrik Wessels and André-Hugo Venter, the Sharks is in for a long day. Cronje at eightman will also be a star and then they possess of a backline which is almost the who's who of the top schoolboy backline players in South Africa with a lot expected from Soloyi at fullback.
The fixtures for day tw0 (02/07/2019) is:
09:30 Griquas vs Limpopo Bulls
11:00 Blue Bulls XV vs Lions XV
12:30 Griffons vs Eastern Province
14:00 Border vs Blue Bulls
15:30 Lions vs WP XV