The business manager of the Vodacom Blue Bulls, Ian Schwartz, is generally satisfied with the performance of the Union's under 18-team during the Craven week, especially taking into account that the Cheetahs were in excellent form this year.
"It would have been nice to have played the Cheetas only on Thursday, but already before the tournament we all knew that the side from Bloemfontein was the one we had to beat.
"Last year the Bulls had an incredible team, and this year it was the Cheetahs' turn."
Some of the players from the Bull's camp that caught Schwartz's eye were the lock from St. Albans Mlungise Bali, Waterkloof's fetcher Marnus Schoeman, and the fast loose forward from Pretoria Boys High Tendayi Chikukwa.
Schwartz holds Waterkloof and the SA under 19-team's flyhalf, Francois Brummer, in high esteem, but points out that a thigh injury sustained before the beginning of the tournament hampered his play and reputation. However, he is convinced that Brummer will soon regain his former strength.
The huge lock from Affies, Cornell Hess, also impressed, but the fact that this young player has been on the rugby field continually for the past 18 months was evident during the Cravenweek.
Hess was already playing for the Affies first team last year, was chosen for the Bulls' Cravenweek team in the winter holidays, and subsequently delivered shining performances for the Bulls' under 19's.
After the national under 19-competition he participated in the SA under 19-trails, after which he went to the training camp and the World Cup tournament. He had hardly returned from the World Cup when he had to play for his school again, which was followed by trials for the Cravenweek and provincial games. He is currently in Cape Town with the SA schools-team and chances are that he will again be roped into the Bulls' under 19's. Such a routine that allows for no rest cannot possibly be good for the well-being of any schoolboy.
Schwartz describes Bulls' centres Yondela Stampu and Simphiwe Mtimkulu as solid on the tournament, but believes that both should focus on inside centre in future.
In the last line of defence fullback Gerhard van der Heever from Affies improved in every match and contributed particularly to the Bulls' victory over the Sharks.
Boys High's wing Tom Marothodi, who is chosen for the SA schools-team, was also a prominent player, but Schwartz says that there is a lot of work still to be done to improve his and schoolmate Chikikwa's conditioning.
Players in the Limpopo-team that drew Schwartz's attention included flanker Wimpie van der Walt, Meiring de Clerq (lock), Marnitz Boshoff (flyhalf), Dian Helberg (wing) and the big outside centre, Chris Botha.
The wing from the High school Ben Voster in Tzaneen, Alec Mhlanga, and the loosehead prop Trevor Nyakane, thrilled the Bulls' talent scouts. The Elephants' SA-athlete Riaan Arendse was remarkable as well, but if Schwartz could appoint the Player of the Tournament players such as Cheetahs inside centre Robert Ebersohn and SWD captain Christiaan Stander (no 8) would be in consideration.
"If I consider the Cravenweek as a whole I find it a very good tournament and I think the SA selectors were spot on in selecting the SA Academy and SA Schools teams".