Craven Week

Craven Week to Springbok

Fri, 13 Jul 2012 15:33
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From time to time you hear somebody say how many Springboks Craven Week has 'produced', as if it were part of an assembly line.

There are boys who got to Craven Week and go on to play for South Africa. There are also boys who do not go to Craven Week and go on to play for South Africa. The same, to a lesser extent, there are boys who go to schools and go on to play for South Africa. Schools rejoice in the achievements of the Old Boys, as well they should, but whether the schools 'produced' these Springboks is doubtful.

The first Craven Week was in 1964. There had been some 430 Springboks before there was a Craven Week but of the players who played in that Craven Week in East London, four went on to play for South Africa. In 1964 the idea of Craven Week was novel and the organisation was minimal. There were provinces who had been picking teams to represent their provinces for years and there were provinces, like Western Province, where it had never happened. There were 15 provinces that sent teams to East London.

The four who went on to play rugby for South Africa's were André de Wet, Andrew van der Watt, Mike Jennings and Joggie Jansen.

De Wet, Van der Watt and Jennings became Springboks in 1969, Jansen in 1970 - and who will forget the tackle that changed the series against the All Blacks.

Born in Kokstad André de Wet went to Selborne College in East London and played for Border Schools in 1964 before going off to Stellenbosch where he studied to become a pharmacist and played for Western Province. He was playing for Western Province when he played at lock in two Tests against the 1969 Wallabies. On the 'demo' tour of 1969-70 he played in nine matches, including the Test against England.

He returned to East London, played for Border and became a member of parliament, first representing the Democratic Party and later the National Congress. In 1994 he became a member of the Provincial Legislature of the Eastern Cape.

Born in Krugersdorp Andy van der Watt went to Maritzburg College in the days of the great Skonk Nicholson, played for Natal Schools at the first Craven Week, and then, after the Air Force Gymnasium, to Stellenbosch University in the days of the great Danie Craven. Small wonder that when he was a schoolmaster at Hilton he coached the rugby with great zest. He was the Hilton coach when Gary Teichmann, Bob Skinstad and Wayne Fyvie were at the famous school.

Van der Watt played provincial rugby for Western Province, Border and Natal. He became a Springboks on the 1969-70 tour playing in 17 of the 24 matches, including the Tests against England and Ireland.

Mike Jennings was the son of the 1937 Springbok CB Jennings and like him was educated at Dale College in King William's Town. Like De Wet he played for Border at the first Craven Week and then went about getting himself qualified as a primary schools teacher first at Graaff-Reinet Teachers' Training College, then at Paarl Training College and then at Wits, in the process playing [provincial rugby for North Eastern Cape, Boland, Western Province, Transvaal and Eastern Transvaal.

He was at Paarl training College and playing for Boland when he became a Springbok in 1969, playing in eight tour matches but no Tests.

Joggie (Joachim Scholtz) Jansen in one devastating tackle on Wayne Cottrell of New Zealand in 1970 changed the All Blacks' gameplan and probably won the series for South Africa. Born in Griekwastad he went to school there and in 1964 he played for Griquas at Craven Week. He was then just 16.

From there he went to the university of the Orange Free State, played for Orange Free State and in 1970 became a Springbok, playing in 10 Tests. It was not a long career as he suffered many inquiries, including two broken arms.

Those were the Springboks from the first Craven Week. There are several Springboks who have been to Craven Week, several who have played for South African Schools. There are also several Springboks who did not get to Craven Week at all. We shall be looking at some of them next.

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