The top under-13 rugby players in the country converged at Bela-Bela in high spirits on Sunday as they prepare to make their presence felt in the Coca-Cola Craven Week at Warmbad Hoȅrskool in the first of the Youth Weeks across the country.
The holiday town was a hive of activity as the players and their family members arrived steadily throughout the day to settle in ahead of the first day’s matches on Monday.
With the tournament marking an important step in young players’ careers as they aspire to earn provincial and national honours in future, there was a seriousness within the camps as they arrived at the registration desk.
The Golden Lions and Zimbabwe will open the tournament at 8-30am in the first of nine matches in a thrilling day’s action, with another neighbouring country Namibia going up against Mpumalanga in the second clash.
The big games on day-one, however, are expected to be Western Province taking on Griquas, the Blue Bulls meeting Boland and the Forever Limpopo Blue Bulls lining up against KwaZulu-Natal.
The Blue Bulls and Western Province were particularly impressive in last year’s tournament in the Free State as both sides won their first three matches convincingly, but the Bulls emerged victorious when the sides met in the final match of the series.
The Limpopo Blue Bulls on the on the other had a disappointing campaign with three defeats in four matches, but with the side hosting the tournament this year, expectations by the players and team management are expected to be much higher.
The tournament runs from Monday to Friday, but the players will have Wednesday at Leisure to recover from the heavy work load.
Under-13 Coca-Cola Craven Week day-one fixtures:
8:30 – Golden Lions 36 vs Zimbabwe 0
9:20 – Mpumalanga 17 vs Namibia 0
10:10 – Border 28 vs Free State Cheetahs 17
11:00 – Griffons 3 vs Border CD 5
11:50 – SWD 0 vs Valke 0
12:40 – Leopards 10 vs Eastern Province 5
14:45 – Western Province 31 vs Griquas 7
15:35 – Blue Bulls 15 vs Boland 5
16:25 – Forever Limpopo Blue Bulls 5 vs KwaZulu-Natal 33