The under-18 Craven Week kicks off with the Leopards taking on Namibia in Port Elizabeth this morning.
The rugby community will again be holding their breaths to see how many of the country’s top players are shipped off to Europe following a few solid performances for their provincial sides.
The tournament, a brainchild of the oldest living Springbok Piet Malan, has grown from an event that started as part of celebrations of the then South African Rugby Board’s 75th celebrations in 1949 to a money-spinner that attracts talent scouts from all corners of the globe.
Competition between players has shifted to ensuring that they attract the attention of men carrying chequebooks and lucrative contracts.
All the matches of this year’s Craven Week will be televised, adding more pressure on the youngsters to perform, and the fear is that many future Springboks will be lured to pursue careers outside of South Africa’s borders.
Certain top flight French clubs have made no secret that they will be offering the top props and locks contracts that equate to more than R25000 per month that includes boarding, food and travel.
To combat this reality, the South African Rugby Union (Saru) decided to take a different approach this year and won’t be selecting their SA Schools team at the conclusion of the event. Instead, a larger group of 44 players will be identified for the upcoming international season during which matches will be played against Wales, France and England.
Said Saru’s Nico Serfontein: “When players know they are part of a bigger plan, they tend to think twice before pursuing careers abroad.”
Article source: http://www.thenewage.co.za/55605-19-53-World_eyes_Craven_Week