Can Greyt still save Frail-staat at Craven Week in 2023?

Grey College remain on track to an unbeaten season in 2023.

In their latest match they overcame a spirited challenge from Boishaai on Brugstraat in Paarl by 39-30. The score was 39-18 towards the end thanks to another high-fives display by the meaty engine-room, along with no.8 captain JJ Theron and big blindsider Keegan Scholtz to add their considerable power the Les Bleus Tsunami whenever required.

The Grey backs get the job done when required and here no one was more impressive on the day than pivot Ian van Merwe, who continues to look like a long term real-deal prospect for South African rugby.

Grey have so many go-to options in personnel in their lineup that they didn’t really even need to rely on their two biggest X-factors, namely Jean-Henri Smit at flank and Vincent Wolhuter at fullback.

In the end tighthead Jean Erasmus was a fitting recipient of the player of the match award.

On the track to achieving the unbeaten season milestone, which will be Grey’s first since 2019 and a first for head coach Jannie Geldenhuys, in his third season at the helm, will be Witbul high hurdles in the form of Affies and Monnas. However it’s the season ending game against Paul Roos on the A-field alongside Jock Meiring Street in Bloem in August, which might just prove to be the stumbling block that beating Outeniqua in George and Garfontein in Kimberley in titanic struggles turned out not to be.

The reason for this is the three certainties of SBR life are death, taxes and a Grey versus Paul Roos interschools clash while u18 Internationals are on.

So how many Grey boys will be required by SA Schools (SAS) for the u18 Internationals and will therefore miss the Paul Roos match?

Well it could be as many as six players, who knows maybe more.

The thinking has to be that prop Jean Eramus and no.8 JJ Theron are must have players for the national team. The tall lock pairing of Schalk du Plessis and Heinrich Theron must also be right up there as just the sort of big boys with good workrates that are needed. (Mind you, how does one deny first choice lock Marno Stopforth his place – he may not be a tower in stature but he has been a tower of strength.) Then the consistent flyhalf Ian van der Merwe might be in a compo with a certain star number-10 at Paarl Gim, but he as to figure in the plans surely. At outside centre Benito Goeda has caught the eye.

To be fair there are numerous other players who stand out and would not be out of place in Green and Gold. Just look at what the starting 2, 6, 7, 12 and 15 bring to the party on any given Saturday.

Traditionally the first step towards gaining SAS selection is being picked for Craven Week (CW). Then the next step is to perform reasonably well in relation to the main competition for positions at CW. We do now know that SARU high school selectors look beyond the CW tournament.

This is probably a good thing because CW is increasingly looking like a downfall for Grey boys ambitions via the weakened Cheetahs team.

Why? Well CW requires a minimum of 12 players of colour (POC) in a squad of 23.

So between the top Bloem teams the number of POC’s are:
Grey College 1st XV (1);
their strong Cherries 2nd XV who have A-team match exposure (1);
Fichardtpark (2)
Jim Fouche (0)
Sentraal (1)

And Landboudal has one back-three player as well in their 1st XV.

That is a total of six. The issue is all six boys are backs where there are only 10 places in the squad. So the pack is a serious challenge.

There are more selection possibilities in Grey Peaches (3rd XV) and Grey Playboys (4th XV) otherwise its assumed the balance of the Free State CW will come from HTS Louis Botha as per usual.

These days Louis Botha is a weak rugby school, getting weaker by the year. Ideally transformation needs to move to the other Bloem schools in order to afford the provincial u18 team a better chance of success.

Hence the Craven Week team once dubbed Greystaat is looking more like Frail-staat now and not being a limelight team is likely to hurt the chances of the players genuinely competing for a place in the prestigious national u18 team/s.



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  1. avatar
    #3 Smallies

    @OUD ANKER: ongelukkig ja

    15 May, 2023 at 14:51
  2. avatar
    #2 OUD ANKER

    @Smallies: The even longer answer is….politics!

    15 May, 2023 at 12:42
  3. avatar
    #1 Smallies

    The long answer is ……no

    15 May, 2023 at 06:57

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