It may just be lucky timing, but no co-incidence that Jan Serfontein, the IRB Junior Player of the Year 2012 at the recent IRB Junior World Championship in Cape Town, was playing in the Under-18 Coca-Cola Craven Week a just year ago.
Lightning also struck twice with Handrè Pollard, another member of the JWC winning Junior Boks squad and who scored 12 points in the pulsating final less than a week ago, showing once more how important this annual showpiece has become for schoolboy rugby.
In fact, Pollard will be one of the high profile attendees amongst the 440 players from 20 teams, leading Western Province into battle when the 49th tournament takes place at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on 8-14 July 2012.
The fact that Serfontein also played senior rugby representing the Vodacom Blue Bulls in the Vodacom Cup and Pollard already excelled against players two years older has showed once more the excellent young talent on display at this annual schoolboy rugby showcase.
Springbok debutant against England in the recent Castle Incoming Series, Eben Etzebeth, also played in the 2009 U18 Coca-Cola Craven Week, confirming this platform not only remains the most iconic schoolboy rugby tournament in the world, but also a passage into professional and representative rugby.
Coca-Cola South Africa has a close association with SARU and has sponsored youth rugby for 27 years.
“The Coca-Cola Craven Week is synonymous with unearthing talent and fuelling South African rugby with future Springboks, and we are confident that this year’s participants will need no extra motivation to compete at their best for the duration of the tournament,” said Craig van Niekerk, Coca-Cola South Africa, Marketing Assets Manager.
“But it is more than being the vehicle where players begin their quest in tackling the future, it is also aimed at encouraging young rugby players to live an active and healthy lifestyle which is in line with our ‘Live For A Difference’ strategy.”
The U18 Coca-Cola Craven Week, which is named after the legendary rugby player, coach and administrator Dr. Danie Craven, has given rise to some great South African stars from all walks of life. It made history in becoming one of the first multi-racial sporting tournaments in South Africa, opening up its doors to players of all races in 1980.
With the Under-18 Coca-Cola Craven Week tournament in Port Elizabeth, the Under-18 Academy Week in Wellington (1-5 July) and the Grant Khomo Week for Under-16’s in Johannesburg (1-5 July), the Coca-Cola Youth Weeks promise to be an experience filled with excitement for the whole family - and it cannot be denied that in attending these youth events, you could very well be watching future greats in the making.
SARU Marketing Manager, Sarah Mundy, commented that their contemporary creative and strategic implementations behind Coca-Cola Youth Weeks is directly in line with what SARU wants to do in targeting youth rugby overall.
“It’s vital to develop and revive this tournament all the time. The youth of today want to be involved in exciting and innovative ideas, and marketing the Coca-Cola Youth Weeks this way will motivate young people to become engrossed, participate and consume more rugby,” said Mundy.
Ticket prices in Port Elizabeth will cost R50 for a week pass and R20 for a day pass. School kids in uniform with a chaperone will be allowed in for free.