DYLAN JACK looks back at some of the recent standout players to be named U18 Craven Week Hero of the Day.
2014: Curwin Bosch (Eastern Province)
In his first appearance for the EP U18 side, Bosch showed why he was rated as one of the premier schoolboy talents by guiding his team to a nailbiting 26-25 win against the Blue Bulls.
With EP trailing 19-9 and looking out of the game, Bosch scored an incredible solo try, dummying and stepping his way through the Bulls defence to start a memorable comeback. The flyhalf held his nerve to slot a touchline conversion and give his team the win, ending the match with a 21-point haul.
EP would go on to win the unofficial final against SWD for the first time in 37 years.
Bosch has been joined by Grey High and EP U18 teammate Jeremy Ward at the Sharks and would make his Springbok debut in 2017. Front-rankers Lupumlo Mguca and Alandré van Rooyen have remained in the Eastern Cape with the Kings.
2015: Xolisa Guma (Sharks)
KZN Sharks wing Guma was given the Hero of the Day award following his team’s opening 18-16 victory over the Golden Lions on the second day of the 2015 Craven Week.
The Lions were 16-13 up before Guma got into the action. The Maritzburg College pupil received the ball on the halfway line, gassed away from the first defender, before unleashing a brutal step to get past his opposite wing just inside the touchline. The cross-field defence couldn’t get to him in time and he scored in the corner.
It would end as a disappointing week for the Sharks as they lost to both EP on day four and SWD on day five. That would also be Guma’s only try of the tournament.
Guma did, however, earn himself a move to the Vodacom Bulls. The speedster has been impressive for Tuks in the past two years of the Varsity Cup and played for the Bulls in the Provincial Rugby Challenge.
His U18 teammate, flyhalf Bader Pretorius, recently joined the Kings, helping them to a memorable victory over Edinburgh in 2019.
2015: Embrose Papier (Blue Bulls)
Papier was named Hero of the Day on day five of the 2015 Craven Week in Stellenbosch after helping the Blue Bulls beat Boland 40-12.
The scrumhalf scored one of his team’s six tries, starting and finishing off a multi-phase movement that gave the Bulls a 15-7 lead after being just one point ahead for most of the first half.
The result ended the Bulls’ tournament on a high, after they lost a hard-fought match to Western Province, going down 20-13 to the home side. This Bulls team also boasted the likes of hooker Schalk Erasmus, locks Ruben van Heerden and PJ Steenkamp as well as centre Stedman Gans.
Since then, the Garsfontein Old Boy has gone on to play for the Vodacom Bulls at both Currie Cup and Vodacom Super Rugby level. The 23-year-old made his Springbok debut in 2018 and ended the year as backup to first-choice Faf de Klerk.
2016: Wandisile Simelane (Golden Lions)
Simelane produced a standout display of attacking rugby on the second day of the 2016 Craven Week, scoring a massive 29 points in the Golden Lions’ 59-26 victory over SWD.
The centre scored a first-half hat-trick, while also demonstrating his talent by slotting 14 points off the kicking tee.
Simelane, along with U18 teammates Nathan McBeth and Tyrone Green, has made his Super Rugby debut for the Lions in 2019. Meanwhile, hooker PJ Botha, tighthead prop Asenathi Ntlabakanye and lock Ruan Vermaak are part of the Lions set-up.
2016: JC Pretorius (Pumas)
Pretorius scored a last-minute try to help the Pumas secure a 31-29 win against the Griffons. It was the Pumas’ first Craven Week win since 2012.
Playing at flank, Pretorius picked up the ball from the back of a wheeling scrum before setting off on a massive run, showing his speed to score the winning try.
Pretorius moved to the Bulls and was named in their wider Super Rugby training squad this year, but has made his mark for the Blitzboks on the sevens circuit.
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images