Article by Gregory Cohen
2022 has indeed been an absolute whirlwind of a season. None of the traditional heavyweights are unbeaten, the Southern Suburb teams have looked stronger than usual and Craven Week promises to be an absolute spectacle.
Grey College, despite their loss to Paarl Gim, seem to be leading the pack in terms of school teams with one loss and a draw the only blemishes on their record. Paarl Gim were stunned by a resilient Paul Roos outfit, Paarl Boys High have looked strong despite the slip up to Rondebosch and being beaten by Grey College. Affies impressed in the early season with big wins but were undone by local rivals Garsfontein and convincingly beaten by Grey College. Garsfontein looked like they would run away with the season but were stopped dead in their tracks by Monument who beat them in a one-sided showing. Bishops racked up big wins but came unstuck at the end of the term with three straight losses including to rivals Rondebosch. This has been a truly rollercoaster season that has served up its share of absolutely world-class school rugby.
Looking at Craven Week from an odds point of view it would not be out of the ordinary to assume Western Province, who will be playing at home, will be favorites. We remember the 2015 Craven Week at Paul Roos and how that went. At the time of writing only the Sharks team has been made public. Western Province is expected to be anchored by Paarl Gim stars and a plethora of winelands powerhouses from Paarl Boys High and Paul Roos. After an above average showing this season I would expect to see a handful of boys from Bishops, Rondebosch and Wynberg get their provincial honors. In summation, a truly epic team. A team I feel will also look to make a statement at Craven Week will be the Bulls Team. Affies and Garsfontein are expected to form the bulk of this outfit with a few stars from Waterkloof and Menlopark.
We saw in 2019 that despite the Bulls not having the depth of Western Province in terms of rugby-factory schools they can still go toe-to-toe with them. The 2019 Final was a reasonably competitive affair until about the 50th minute when Province started pulling away. The Lions will look for redemption after losing to the Western Province XV (2nd Team) at the 2019 Craven Week. I expect a strong outfit made up of athletes from Helpmekaar and Monument with KES and Jeppe players bolstering the side.
The Lions were the last team besides Western Province to win Craven Week, back in 2017 hosted at St Stithians. The surprise package at Craven Week could be the Sharks who have picked six players from both DHS and Hilton respectively. DHS have had some tough games this season including narrow losses to Oakdale Landbou and Monument, who themselves are top tier teams. Hilton have only come unstuck against Paarl Boys High in less than ideal weather conditions at the St Johns Festival over Easter. Hein Kriek will coach the side and bring tons of experience to the outfit.
South Western Districts (SWD) mostly composed of Oakdale Landbou and Outeniqua will be a competitive outfit. Oakdale shocked the country when they drew to Grey College. Outeniqua have also recorded wins over Monument, Selborne and Boland Landbou this season.
Craven Week promises to deliver electric rugby. It will be hosted at Rondebosch Boys High nestled under Table Mountain in the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town, ideal for traveling fans and parents. See you there !