Saturday 16 June 2012 was the day meant to be set aside for an away trip to Mpumalanga to play the Pumas in a Craven Week warm-up game. Sadly this is not to be. The game had to be cancelled due to the unavailability of several selected players who still have school rugby commitments. As a result of the same obligations, a later trip to Bondedag has also been scratched.
The news gets even worse. Plans for a possible warm-up game against Border has also been canned, following a decision by the original Border Schools coaching staff to resign. It’s believed that these Border officials that would have helped make the KZN match happen, quit in protest of the Union’s selection debacle that has seen several top players omitted from the Border squad simply because they have contracts with other Unions in place.
This means that in all likelihood, KZN’s 2012 preparations for the Craven Week showpiece will be limited to just a one week long training camp which will hopefully a training game against suitable opponents like the Sharks u19 team as was the case in 2011.
Last year the KZN team came within seconds of clinching a berth in the unofficial Craven Week final, losing out narrowly to the Golden Lions after beating WP in their first match. These results were no fluke. They were made possible by a change in approach to preparing the team wich included two very useful warm-up games against strong opponents in the form of the Pumas and the Bulls, ahead of a high-quality training camp. Not only did these two games help the side to gel but the knowledge gained about things such as the speed, alertness and physicality needed to succeed were invaluable to both players and coaches.
It’s therefore obviously very unfortunate that the team loses out of these vital warm-up games. The boys have undeniable talent and willingness to succeed though, so hopefully the upping of the intensity of the training camp will more than make up for the lost game time.