Paarl and Stellenbosch schoolboys should represent Boland and not Western Province at Craven Week, argues THEO GARRUN.
Check it out on Google Maps. The distance by road from Johannesburg’s KES to Affies in Pretoria is 59.3km. From Bishops to Paarl Boys’ High it’s 67.5km.
Yes, it’s stuck record time again, and time to ask why the top rugby schools in Paarl and Stellenbosch form the backbone of the Western Province schools rugby team but in other sports activities, they are part of Boland. And why everyone sees that as fine, and celebrates WP’s ongoing dominance of the sport at this level.
Imagine if Affies, Menlo Park and Garsfontein were part of the Golden Lions rugby setup. They can carry on playing cricket for Northerns, just like Booishaai, Paul Roos et al play cricket for Boland.
If the best rugby players from there were combined with the best from Monument, KES and Helpmekaar, I dare say they would be as dominant as WP usually is, and whoever coached that composite side would be praised as a great coach of schoolboy rugby.
When I’ve tried to find out how exactly the current Western Cape arrangement came about I’ve never been given a definite answer. Only that it’s always been that way, along with suggestions that Dr Danie Craven had something to do with it. It’s pointed out that at the end of the day it’s two teams on the field and the other provinces are welcome to live up to the standards of talent identification, coaching and organisation that exist in their region.
Well, it hasn’t always been that way. In 2001 at Craven Week in Rustenburg, it was decided that the Boland schools should play for Boland, and Western Province should be chosen from the Cape Town area, just like it is in every other sport. Derick Hougaard, who went to Boland Landbou, played for Boland that year and made the SA Schools side. So did Pieter Pienaar, who was at Paarl Gimnasium. Also in the team was Hennie Daniller, who was at Paarl Gim and who played for Western Province the next year.
Interestingly, it was only the Paarl schools who played for Boland that year. Stellenbosch’s Paul Roos Gimnasium stayed with Western Province.
Schalk Burger was at Paarl Gim and played for Boland at the 2001 Craven Week.
Western Province won all three games in Rustenburg, but they weren’t good enough to play in either of the last two games on the Saturday. SWD beat the Blue Bulls 26-20 in the main game and the next year the Paarl schools were back in the fold.
I can’t find anyone who remembers why the decision was made to do the right thing in 2001, in fact, many were astounded to find out that it happened at all. But whatever principles were applied in deciding to go that way soon disappeared when they realised that without a little help from their friends, Western Province had to play on a level field, and they found it tough.
Every now and again there are mumbles out of the directions of the Departments of Sport and Recreation and Basic Education – and all school sport falls jointly under them, remember – that all interprovincial tournaments should be played according to the nine political provincial demarcations. If that ever happened we would see Gauteng play Western Cape and that would be quite a game to watch.
Until then, however, this particular elephant will galumph around the Craven Week room trampling everyone in its path and no one, except for me and a dwindling few others, even see him anymore.
So, here I sit at the 2018 Craven Week in the glorious rain in Paarl. The rugby part of me is revelling in the brilliant rugby played by the Winelands-laden WP side that’s in action here. The other part continues to wonder how it’s possible that everyone seems to think it’s all OK.
Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images