All Time Craven Week XV: Boland

We continue our series leading up to this years Craven Week by looking at each major Unions all time Craven Week XV.

This week we turn our attention to the Boland region. What is truly amazing is how much talent comes from this region, many players on this list no doubt would have been picked up by talent scouts from the major unions in this day and age. Is it a good thing or a bad thing? We will leave that for you to judge.


Bulls All Time Craven Week XV


15) Hennie Daniller (Paarl Gim, 2002)

The lock born to play Fullback, Daniller was a giant of a backline player standing at over 190cm tall and weighing close to 100kg even in his school playing days.

He was in a Paarl Gim team that convincingly won their interschools derby against Paarl Boys which is a rare feat and was later selected for the SA Schools team and represented his country at Under 19 and Under 21 levels, this was a time before World Rugby changed to an Under 20 format.

He would start his career at the Bulls where competition for places was fierce but found his home and his best stretch of form while at the Cheetahs where he became known for his consistent performances and was a firm fan favourite.

14) Leolin Zas (Hermanus, 2013)

Zas was an absolute speed merchant at schools level and easily one of the most destructive wingers in the country. He truly shone at Craven Week scoring 18 points at the tournament which earned him SA Schools selection. The selectors faith in him was rewarded with Zas scoring the winning try against Wales in a nail biting 14-13 victory.

He would later be contracted to Western Province at youth level where he would earn his Under 20 colours for his country in 2015 scoring 2 tries in his 5 appearances. In 2016 he made it all the way to the South African “A” team but perhaps never quiet reached the heights that his early form may have suggested, competition in the franchise system is extremely tense but Zas at schools level is a player who has few equals.

13) Dewey Swartbooi (Worcester Gim, 2000)

Swartbooi was an extremely gifted centre and was a key player for Boland in their 2000 campaign with his performances earning him a SA Schools call cup. He would have a decorated career as somewhat of a journeyman player having represented the Bulls, Lions and Cheetahs before finishing off his career at his home Union of Boland.

Swartbooi has taken his on field experience and leveraged it into a successful coaching career having started off as a defensive coach for Tuks in the 2022 season before being appointed head coach and leading the straight to promotion after a shock relegation in 2023.

12) Wayne Julies (Charleston Hill, 1997)

Julies was a part of the forgotten generation, the first group of player of colour that emerged as prodigious talents just after South Africa’s first ever democratic elections.

Julies was featured as a start for the future in most of the local rugby magazines at the time, and this as a player who came from a somewhat unknown school and a Union that is certainly not considered a giant.

Julies certainly unlike other managed to live up to the hype earning 11 caps for the Springboks but perhaps was not given a fair chance to develop into the type of player he could have had he been given more time and mentoring at the various Unions he played for. Had his talented been truly nurtured he could of become a Springbok regular at worst, at best maybe the word legend could be sprinkled in there.

11) Jeffrey Stevens (Breerivier, 1996)

The right player, the wrong era. Stevens like Julies was all over the local magazines and known as a wing with an explosive burst of speed that even opposition spectators in the minefield that is Boland schools rugby would laud and appreciate.

In the present era there is no doubt that a player of Stevens’ ability and talent would have been carefully managed and he would have been an absolute superstar on the Sevens circuit had there been one as organized as is now.

Stevens would later go on to enjoy a successful if unappreciated career as a coach. He was a UWC man through and through, he is the reason they went from relative unknowns to become a competitive force in the Varsity Cup.

Stevens tragically passed away in 2014, but the legacy he left behind may not be his playing career but a far more unselfish one – he left the UWC in a better place than he found it, and for that alone one would have to say he deserves some recognition.

10) Derick Hougaard (Boland Landbou, 2001)

The liefling of Loftus was a key figure at Craven Week for a Boland team that had featured players from the Winelands schools. He was selected for SA Schools and like many young players before him he ended up with numerous offer but choosing the Bulls over other Unions.

Few could have predicted what would happen next. While most players these days go through the Under 19 to Under 21 system Hougaard was thrown straight into the deep end and represented the Bulls with distinction during the Currie Cup, but it was the 2002 final that would be his crowning moment. He broke Naas Botha’s record by scoring 26 points in the final against the Lions and rightly winning the man of the match award.

His kicking accuracy, tactical awareness and overall vision for the game and the Springboks clear decline led to local fans demanding that he be called up for the Springboks. He certainly did not disgrace himself in what was a weak era for the Boks. We all thought this was a 100 plus cap career waiting to happen but Jake White’s selection as Springbok coach and his vision for a running flyhalf meant that his international career never took off.

Competition with the in form Morne Steyn at the Bulls also took its toll but when you look at the stats 712 points in 68 games shows you that he was by no means a bit part player. He ended up finishing of his career overseas, with a different coach in 2004 who know what could have happened but at the end of the day we will always have 2002.

9) Ricky Januarie (Weston, 2000)

Ricky Januarie would have no doubt been picked up by one of the major rugby playing schools from a young age but this was a different time and many would have no doubt been thinking that this must be a “quota” player when he was selected for SA Schools after a great Craven Week.

How wrong they would be, Ricky went on to have an extremely distinguished career representing his nation on 47 occasions. One knows that had Ricky not been in the same generation at the GOAT (Fourie du Preez) then he would have played far more games for the Boks but his achievements and consistency at senior level and his fulfillment of his potential makes him a rare exception in rugby.

8) Schalk Burger (Paarl Gim, 2001)

Another of the short run experiment where the Winelands schools rightly played for their catchment area of Boland, Burger was a menacing presence on the field known for his breakdown player but was also a very handy cricketer.

He was not selected to the SA Schools team that year to the shock of many but that did not stop Schalk. He went on to represent the Springboks 86 times and won a World Cup in the process as well as being the IRB player of the year in 2004.

These days Schalk is a successful pundit and his relationship with fellow Gim old boy Jean de Villiers truly makes for entertaining viewing.

7) Hilton Lobberts (New Orleans, 2004)

A giant of a young lad, Lobberts was the epitome of strength and brute force at schools level and was discovered by the Bulls whose coach at the time Heyneke Meyer convinced Lobberts to make the move to the Bulls where he was confident the youngster would shine.

He would make his debut for the senior side only 2 years after leaving school and make over 40 appearances for the senior side before competition and form meant he would become like many others on the list a journeyman player but he did manage to make two test appearances for the Springboks.

6) Wian Liebenberg (Drostdy, 2010)

A hard as nails and uncompromising old school flanker, Liebenberg had a work rate that made him truly stand out from his peers and his Drostdy team of 2010 was a well respected outfit. 2010 was an extremely competitive year in terms of talent in the loose forward department but Liebenberg’s performances at Craven Week earned him his SA Schools colours and a dream move to the Bulls.

In 2012 however he would cement his legacy in South African youth rugby lore leading the Baby Boks to the first and only ever Under 20 championship defeating arch rivals New Zealand in the final. He would go on to represent the Bulls on numerous occasions before moving to France in 2015 playing for Montpellier and La Rochelle before retiring at the young age of 29.

5) Pieter-Steph du Toit (Swartland, 2010)

Do we really need to go into much detail on this one? Pieter-Steph is a living and breathing Springbok legend, one of the best loose forwards the game has seen and it all started at Swartland of all places. Du Toit was well known in the area, his exploits at school level meant virtually all the major schools were after him but the chose to stay close to the family farm. After school he made a move to the Sharks and was another member of that legendary 2012 title winning Baby Bok team.

The rest you can read on Wikipedia, if you aren’t aware of this mans achievements then you shouldn’t be reading this article.

4) Gideon Koegelenberg (Hugenote, 2012)

The giant lock was an absolute brute at schools level, dominating opponents and if we had access to streaming in the same way we have today many clips would be circulating his massive hits and tackles.

He was part of a competitive if unspectacular 2012 Boland team at Craven Week but such were his performances that he earned a well deserved SA Schools call-up.

He would go on to represent the Sharks at senior level before making the move overseas to the Rebels in Australia before a stint with Kurita Water Gush but now has signed for Benetton in Italy.

3) Wilco Louw (Drostdy, 2012)

It is hard to believe that Louw is yet to turn 30, it seems he has been around for ages and in any other generation he would have been a regular in the Springbok squad but this is a special generation of players that Louw has to contend with but make no mistake, his exploits at school level are the stuff of legend.

He was a part of a Donkies team that took few prisoners, they recorded wins over fellow “Boland” teams Paarl Gim, Boland Landbou and Paul Roos. And Louw was key to those victories, demolishing opposition scrums.

He would go on to make over 100 appearances for the Stormers/Western Province before moving for a stint overseas and has 14 Springbok caps to his name currently. There is no reason why a talented tighthead such as this cannot get more in the future, time will tell.

2) Christo Kotze (Dirkie Uys, 1978)

Christo Kotze played two years for the SA Schools team in 1977 and 1978, further to this he captained his school for 2 years and was in the first team for there. His strong performances at Craven Week cemented his national position and his leadership traits were evident when named captain for Boland in 1978. Fun fact is that he was chosen above future Springbok Uli Schmidt as was mentioned by Paul Dobson in his book “30 Super Springboks”.

After school he played Pretoria Forces u20 and for the South African Airforce, Junior Boland Team and was captain of the Langebaan Airforce team.  At Stellenbosch University he played for Huis Marais hostel in two Sauer Finals both as hooker and wing. He also played throughout his years at Stellenbosch for the Victorian team and Maties 1st (1982 to 1985). Often captain of the Victorians. He was the hooker for Maties in 1983 playing against Switzerland and Belgium on their tour to Europe. His career ended due to a neck injury in 1985.

1) Andrew Beerwinkel (Porterville, 2011)

A name that is hard to forget, Beerwinkel was a tough and uncompromising front rower from Porterville who rose up the ranks to represent Boland at Craven Weeks in 2010 and 2011 with SA Schools selection following from there.

The youngster then took up a contact at the Bulls and in 2013 was selected for the South African Under 20 team that performed with distinction at that years tournament making 4 appearances and scoring a try in the process.

Since then like many rugby players it has been a journeyman career for Beerwinkel but there is no doubting he had the pedigree to go very far in the game.

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