The Border under-18 Craven Week team along with their under-18 Country Districts team is marked down to play at Bondedag at Loftus on 01 July 2017.
That’s also the day Cape Schools Week begins.
Between Dale, Queen’s and Selborne, they have 14 of the 23 Border Craven Week players.
So it seemed like it would come down to a “choice” – school or province!
It wouldn’t have been a difficult choice though. The Cape Schools Week commitment was made over a year ago and many of parents etc had finalised their travel and accommodation months back as well. The Bondedag is on the other hand just a few weeks old.
So Cape Schools Week it was, meaning Craven Week players will be heading to Rondebosch in Cape Town for two games as opposed to Pretoria for one game. The two venues are roughly the same distance away from the Border region.
As a result the Border Academy Week team that was initially down to play at Bondedag was replaced by the Border CD team, probably so that Academy Week players could step up and fill the positions of those unavailable for the Craven Week team game (against the Pumas).
In the past Border has had challenges funding their teams’ basic Youth Week requirements such as kit, so it might have come as a bit of a surprise that they could now afford a return trip all the way to Pretoria for just one match.
As it turns out the Bulls are behind the initiative so the Eastern Cape union’s finances will not be strained in this regard.
Although the Bulls have completed their recruitment of under-19 players for the 2018 season, for those under-17 players (stayers) making up the new Border travelling squad it’s a great opportunity to play at Loftus and also see what the Bulls have to offer them, if they are being considered for Bulls junior contracts for 2019 and onwards.
The only real downsides are 1 ) the trip itself which is an exhausting 18 hours x 2 by bus and 2) the lack of match benefit that a made up team will derive.
On point 2, whereas just about every other team at Bondedag can use their competitive live match conditions to build cohesion in much needed preparation for Craven Week a couple of weeks later, there is nothing of the sort planned for Border, ahead of a seriously tough opener against a very formidable looking Golden Lions under-18 team. The Lions would have had a stack of matches under the belt by Craven Week and at this stage it looks like Border might be heading into that game very cold in comparison.