Polokwane was a hive of activity on Sunday afternoon as the 20 teams participating in the 50th edition of the Coca-Cola Craven Week descended on the Limpopo Province ready to stamp their authority.
The teams and their management arrived steadily throughout the day in good spirits with war-cries easing the tension as many of the players came face to face with their opponents before the opening days play.
For many this tournament represents one of the most significant moments in their lives, as some of them are the cream of the crop in South African rugby and could go on to achieve higher honours in future.
The importance of the Craven Week is illustrated by the fact that 25 of the 28 players in the SA under-20 squad that travelled to France last month for the IRB Junior World Championship, graduated through the Coca-Cola Youth Weeks.
The fact that this tournament marks the 50th anniversary of the Coca-Cola Craven Week is expected to add to the pressure as the players look to live up to the expectations of this significant occasion.
The action kicks off at 08h30 with Griquas hosting Zimbabwe in the opening match at the Old Peter Mokaba Stadium, which marks the first of five matches for the day.
In the eagerly anticipated fixtures, Western Province and the Pumas battle it out at 11h30 and the Blue Bulls take on KwaZulu-Natal at 13h00.
The second match, in particular, will pit four players who represented the SA Schools team during last year’s Under-18 International Series against England, Wales and France against each other. Twins Daniel and Jean-Luc du Preez will represent KZN, while Justin Phillips and Jurie Linde will run out for the Pretoria team.
On the sidelines, SARU’s various departments will offer activities which will be available for aspiring referees, coaches and participating players to increase their skills as they look to progress through the ranks in South African rugby.
Coca-Craven Week Day 1 fixtures:
08h30 - Griquas vs Zimbabwe
10h00 – Border vs Namibia
11h30 – WP vs Pumas
13h00 – Blue Bulls vs KZN
15h30 – Limpopo Blue Bulls vs Boland