There may well be good reasons why a player who becomes a Springbok misses out on Craven Week
So you did not go to Craven week; so it's not the end of your rugby ambitions. Craven Week is not an essential step on the ladder to the Springboks. There are plenty of examples to back up that statement.
This year the Springboks played against England in three Tests. There were 27 Springboks in action against England and five of them did not get to Craven Week at all and a sixth was there only because his province had two teams.
The five who did not get to Craven Week are Gio Aplon, Bryan Habana, François Hougaard, Juandré Kruger and Tendai Mtawarira. The one who made it in the "second " team, called then the Western Province Academy team, was the Springbok captain Jean de Villiers. It gets curioser and curioser for from the Western Province Academy team he was chosen for SA Schools.
That year there were 30 teams at Craven Week. Boland, the Valke, KwaZulu Natal, Mpumalanga, Northern Free State and South Western Districts had two each, Border and Eastern Province three each. Western Province had two teams, the second called Western Province Academy team. De Villiers had been recovering from an operation and did not play in the trials. He went as a replacement for an injured player in the Academy side.
There were other teams from time to time that gave players who were not first choices for their provinces a chance to go to Craven Week. Davon Raubenheimer is a case in point. He went as part of a Western Cape team.
Of the squad Heyneke Meyer chose for the overseas part of the Rugby Championship this year, Craig Burden, Marcell Coetzee, Bryan Habana, François Hougaard, Juandré Kruger, Tiaan Liebenberg, François Louw and Tendai Mtawarira did not go the Craven Week. That is more than a quarter of the squad.
There may well be good reasons why a player who becomes a Springbok misses out on Craven Week. Bryan Habana was a scrumhalf at KES and then became a centre and made it into the Springbok team as a wing. De Villiers is a case in point and so are those, especially tight forwards, who develop later - like Hempies du Toit who played for Paul Roos 3rd XV when at school. Butch James was an ordinary player at Maritzburg College and blossomed later. Keith Andrews was a flank at Selborne. He switched to prop at UCT and played for South Africa as a prop. Morné du Plessis was a centre at Grey College, more of a cricketer. Craig Burden was a wing at Maritzburg College who later became a hooker - a radical change. Pieter Rossouw was a pole-vaulter at Paarl Gim, not a serious rugby player.
But there are some hard to explain. The hardest is probably Gysie Pienaar who did not play for Free State School but the very next year, at the age of 18, played for the Free State senior team.
Kobus Wiese was not a late developer. In fact he was a magnificently built lock at Paarl Gim but he jumped at two, the selectors wanted somebody else at two and would not consider him at four. Selborne Boome was a star at school but, a lock, the ball was not thrown to him in a single line-out in the trial and he did not make it.
François Hougaard was an outstanding scrumhalf at Paul Roos. Many thought him the best schoolboy scrum seen in the Western Province for many years and it came as a shock when he was not chosen. Dewaldt Duvenage and Clayton Stewart were chosen ahead of him.
On the other hand Eddie Andrews did not play rugby at school at all. He started after school after watching rugby on TV. He phoned the Western Province RFU and told them he wanted to play rugby. He played all right.
On the list of Springboks who did not go to Craven Week you will see Kevin Putt's name. He was at school in New Zealand. You will also several Zimbabweans. Zimbabwe goes to Craven Week.
Some were not eligible because of the race policy of exclusivity that obtained at Craven Week up till 1980.
In some cases players may have missed out because their schools were not all that strong - Marcell Coetzee of Port Natal, for example and Aplon at Hawston. But then Hougaard and Kruger were at Paul Roos, Liebenberg at Grey College, Habana at KES and Louw at Bishops.
* We have a list and proffer it hesitantly. It would be fun to be sure of it. Where there are errors, please, tell firstname.lastname@example.org
Springboks not at Craven Week when they were of eligible age:
Johan Ackerman, Heini Adams, Eddie Andrews, Keith Andrews, Gio Aplon, Anton Barnard, De Wet Barry, Bjorn Basson, Albie Bates, Paul Bayvel, Colin Beck, Christo Bezuidenhout, Nick Bezuidenhout, Robbie Blair, Selborne Boome, BJ Botha, Darius Botha, Gerrie Britz, Warren Brosnihan, Craig Burden, Robert Cockrell, Danie Coetzee, Marcell Coetzee, Peter Cronjé, Quinton Davids, Craig Davidson, Johan de Bruyn, Thinus Delport, Chris Dirks, Tim Dlulane, Michael du Plessis, Morné du Plessis, Piet du Plessis, Tommy du Plessis, Hempies du Toit, Pierre Edwards, Frans Erasmus, Kulu Ferreira, Kabamba Floors, Bevin Fortuin, Adrian Garvey, Gerrie Germishuys, Bryan Habana, Dean Hall, Lappies Hattingh, Ronnie Hill, Henry Honiball, François Hougaard, Niel Hugo, Daan Human, Butch James, Theo Jansen van Rensburg, Gavin Johnson, André Joubert, Marius Joubert, Willie Kahts, Deon Kayser, Juandré Kruger, Johan le Roux, Martiens le Roux, Deon Lotter, Ricardo Loubscher, François Louw, Martiens Louw, Ian Macdonald, Adolf Malan, Robert Markram, Ian McCallum, Roy McCallum, Charl McLeod, Louis Moolman, Ray Mordt, Gerhard Mostert, Brent Moyle, Dick Muir, Johann Muller, Odwa Ndungane, Owen Nkumane, Jongi Nokwe, Theo Oosthuizen, Deon Oosthuysen, Krynauw Otto, Gavin Passens, Breyton Paulse, Gysie Pienaar, Barend Pieterse, Ronnie Potgieter, Richard Prentis, André Pretorius, Jaco Pretorius, Piet Pretorius, Kevin Putt, Harry Roberts, Chris Rogers, Chris Rossouw, Danie Rossouw, Pieter Rossouw, Johan Roux, Wessel Roux, Dale Santon, Hendro Scholtz, Divan Serfontein, Hanyani Shimange, FC Smit, Juan Smith, Jackie Snyman, Gerrie Sonnekus, Johan Spies, Rampie Stander, Willem Stapelberg, Johan Steenekamp, Christian Stewart, Johan Strauss, Peter Swanson, Gary Teichmann, Dawie Theron, Errol Tobias, Johnny Trytsman, Solly Tyibilika, Lukas van Biljon, Derek van den Berg, Johan van der Schyff, Cabous van der Westhuizen, Piet van Deventer, Moaner van Heerden, Dan van Zyl, André Venter, Riaan Viljoen, John Villet, Peter Whipp, Kobus Wiese
There are some good players there! You could pick a good side.