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Hot rugby action in cold city

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“It’s important for the players to not focus exclusively on winning but mostly on enjoying themselves and developing the game."

File Photo. Picture: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

IT WAS only the weather that didn’t play ball when the Under-13 Craven Week and the Under-16 Grant Khomo Week kicked off in Kimberley yesterday morning.

Named after legendary Springbok player and administrator, Dr Danie Craven, the flagship tournament started in July 1964 and is aimed at identifying the top school rugby players in the country.

There are four tournaments that take place during the SA Rugby Union’s Coca-Cola Youth Weeks, namely the Under-13 Craven Week, the Under-16 Grant Khomo, the Under-18 Academy Week and the biggest event in SA schools rugby, the Under-18 Craven Week, which kicks off next week.

“Many of South Africa’s top rugby players have participated in the weeks and used them as a springboard to their professional careers,” the district manager for Coca-Cola, Steven Turner, said yesterday. These include both World Cup winning captains (John Smit and Francois Pienaar) and current Bok captain Siya Kolisi.

“This is a week where heroes are made.”

Griqualand West Rugby Union (GWRU) president Jannie Louw added that while the Saru Youth Weeks were an important milestone in many a fledgling rugby career, enjoying the festival, developing the game and learning valuable on-field lessons that could be incorporated into their day-to-day lives needed to be the top priorities for the players.

Louw also encouraged supporters, coaches and parents not to put too much pressure on the young players in order to help them flourish.

“It’s a privilege for us to host both Youth Weeks at DHS and KHS,” he said. “It’s important for the players to not focus exclusively on winning but mostly on enjoying themselves and developing the game.

“At this age, It is equally important not to put too much pressure on these players in order for them to get the most from the weeks.

Meanwhile, Premier Sylvia Lucas who officially opened the Youth Weeks, described sport as a great tool to bring people from various backgrounds together.

“We are delighted to host this event and wish to extend a warm welcome to all the visitors to the city,” she said.

“School sport serves as the foundation on which athletes build and from where their professional careers are launched.

“I urge athletes to take heed of the rules of the game and wish all competing schools a successful tournament.”

The premier thanked the tournament organisers for placing their confidence in the Northern Cape “by allowing us to host this prestigious tournament”.

“The Northern Cape provincial government pledges its support to the Youth Weeks. We are proud to be associated with not only the tournament, but also the remarkable outcomes and benefits this holds for young people across all colour lines and social standing.

“I officially declare the Youth Weeks open.”

– Murray Swart