A fairytale 27 years in the making

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks on 21 Jul 2017 at 09:30
Tagged with : , , , ,

Here’s a little-known fact (courtesy of Afrikaans writer Hannes Nienaber on The last time a Natal team featured in the main Saturday afternoon match at Craven week was back in 1990!

it’s a bit of a Craven Week quirk that you’re not allowed to call this match a final – or if you do, you have to tack the word “unofficial” in front of it – but the long-standing tradition is to select the two best teams based on the week’s performances and draw them to play against one another in the showcase match. There’s little doubt this year that Pepsi Buthelezi’s Sharks u18 side deserve to be there after a pair of entertaining and dominant results against strong teams this year. Yesterday’s stunning 65-26 demolition of SWD is fresh in the mind, coming hot on the heels of a 53-33 win over the Blue Bulls that was achieved despite losing a man to a red card late in the first half.

Their opponents in the third match, fittingly, will be the Golden Lions.

It’s interesting to note that one of the men who featured for Natal back in 1990 at Craven Week level was a tighthead prop by the name of Etienne Fynn. He, along with Wayne Fyvie and Hentie Maartens from that side went on to play many times for Natal at senior level and is now head of the Sharks Academy and – we would hope – licking his lips at the prospect of a 2018 intake to that fine institution chock full of local talent. Long a criticism leveled at the Union, we know that Gary Teichmann sees that pathway from local schools through to the Sharks senior side as a critical one for future success of the team. The schools seem to be doing far better than before when it comes to developing the talent and as this week as shown, these KZN boys are able to compete with and beat the best.

The pipeline is there, in other words, we just have to ensure that we keep these talented players and feed them into our senior system. There’s further good news here in that the Sharks have already announced the signing of virtually all of the key players from this year’s side; captain Buthelezi, ace scrumhalf Sanele Nohamba, loosie-cum-hooker Dylan Richardson and gargantuan lock JJ van der Mescht, who towered above all comers yesterday as the best player on display anywhere. Another player to catch the eye is big tackling Glenwood centre Conan “The Barbarian” le Fleur; he’s still in Grade 11 this year and will thus not be able to join the Sharks in 2018 but could, hopefully, represent them as an under 19 while still at school.

We await further news from Durban regarding plans for the rest of this team, but let’s not let worries about the future detract from the joys of the present. A big well done to the Sharks under 18 class of 2017 and a massive thank you for reminding us that attractive, winning rugby CAN indeed be played by mean in black and white, with a Shark on their breast.


  • How I wish the Super rugby team can play like these guys are playing . Skill level and running rugby… So nice to see.

  • Comment 1, posted at 21.07.17 09:39:01 by Rvw Reply
  • This team has restored my faith in Sharks rugby. For their tender ages, to be able to perform those delicate offloads, back-flip passes, chip&chases, it’s just mind-boggling. Carlos Spencer would be proud.

  • Comment 2, posted at 21.07.17 10:18:10 by The Great Couch Shark Reply
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  • Great article. Thanks, Rob.

  • Comment 3, posted at 21.07.17 10:22:20 by StevieS Reply
  • Rob im sure i remember KZN playing the Lions in the final game of Craven Week a few years ago but not as far back as 1990 as i was out of school. Perhaps my memory is just fading

  • Comment 4, posted at 21.07.17 10:39:54 by SheldonK Reply

  • @SheldonK (Comment 4) : Maybe you are older than you think you are.

  • Comment 5, posted at 21.07.17 10:49:41 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
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  • @Salmonoid the Subtle (Comment 5) : The fear is real haha

  • Comment 6, posted at 21.07.17 10:56:57 by SheldonK Reply

  • Just watched the highlights of the SWD game (link on The Sharks FB page). Some great skills in there! Look forward to seeung these guys in future senior teams. Great write-up, Rob!

  • Comment 7, posted at 21.07.17 11:09:10 by T-Shark Reply

  • How often does Craven week ‘success’ translate into senior success? I’m going to hazard a guess and say rarely. But good to see Sharks retain some juniors. SA needs strong teams accross the board. Also hope the coaching staff get recognised.

  • Comment 8, posted at 21.07.17 11:19:31 by McLovin Reply

  • @McLovin (Comment 8) : Interesting question that. I remember a few years ago when CW was played in Stellenbosch and the final game was between a very strong WP and a less fancied Free State team, it was played in wet, cold muddy conditions (ideal WP rugby weather). Anyway at the end of the day Free State schools destroyed the WP team and in that Free State team were 2 brothers that were sublime, had skill and class to burn and were the envy of everyone else and every union wanted them for their books, Present stars and surely of the future too. They were Robert and Sias Ebersohn, both made a living from rugby but sadly neither reached the heights of what that brilliant potential offered on that Saturday afternoon.

    Ps I dont remember any names of any other players from that day.

  • Comment 9, posted at 21.07.17 11:38:10 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
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  • Normally one wants a lock to bulk up, I cant wait for JJ van der Mescht do bulk down a bit. :mrgreen:

  • Comment 10, posted at 21.07.17 11:41:11 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
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  • I just want to say thanks for the simple joy that watching this team has brought me. It was great to watch. Anyone who hasn’t seen it, please watch the second try against SWD from yesterday…just a thing of beauty…

  • Comment 11, posted at 21.07.17 11:50:57 by pastorshark Reply
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  • Is there any info you can share about the coaching/management team?

  • Comment 12, posted at 21.07.17 11:51:59 by pastorshark Reply
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  • Great article and great team. Jeremy McClaren is the coach who is now the Glenwood 1st team coach. He was at Kloof previously and performed some miracles there. He is a very down to earth guy who gets the boys to play for him and each other, great coach and humble to boot. The team has retained the Glenwood guys at it core then added great players around them, like Dylan Richardson (Kearsney), Rocky Knox (Michaelhouse), Pepsi Buthelezi (DHS) and Nohamba (DHS). These 4 in particular are game changes and have a good chance to be picked for SA Schools. JJ is a huge threat in the loose and by taking the ball up draws many defenders hence creating space out wide for speedsters like Zondeki, Cele and Le Fleur. It’s just a very well balanced outfit. This all seems a big surprise for non schoolboy rugby fans, but to use Schoolboy rugga enthusiasts we knew this side was something special. Good luck to the boys tomorrow, win or lose we are very proud of you 🙂

  • Comment 13, posted at 21.07.17 12:01:40 by Grasshopper Reply

  • @McLovin (Comment 8) : Signing and retaining are two different things. We can just look back on guys such as Combrinck Whiteley etc. Still lots if cracks for them to slip through I’m afraid.

  • Comment 14, posted at 21.07.17 12:07:44 by coolfusion Reply

  • @Grasshopper (Comment 13) : Nice comment…thanks!

  • Comment 15, posted at 21.07.17 12:18:20 by pastorshark Reply
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  • @coolfusion (Comment 14) : Given just how many of the top school boys are signed by the Bulls and WP, it is a good start though…

  • Comment 16, posted at 21.07.17 12:19:36 by pastorshark Reply
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  • @coolfusion (Comment 14) : Hopefully with time Strools influence with our top school leavers will fade – I think its already happening.

  • Comment 17, posted at 21.07.17 12:45:20 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
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  • @Grasshopper (Comment 13) : So what are the chances of Paarl Gim / Paul Roos offering Mr McClaren an open cheque book, a view of the mountains and a fellow KZN mate / coach just around the corner to keep him company. 😈 :mrgreen:

  • Comment 18, posted at 21.07.17 12:48:31 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
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  • These boys are awesome. Great talent. Other names to look out for is Rynhardt Jonker, Dylan Kruger, Gumede and the front row. JJ van der Mescht can become the most devastating lock we’ve had with the right conditioning and strength training.

  • Comment 19, posted at 21.07.17 12:53:54 by sudhir Reply

  • @Salmonoid the Subtle (Comment 18) : Chances are very high indeed, but I’m hoping Jeremy wants to give the Glenwood job a good 5 year stint. What is great is that of the 18 Glenwood boys selected for Craven Week & Academy Week, 12 are in grade 11. Therefore, 2018 looks good too. Le Fleur (centre/wing), Hendrickse (scrumhalf), Mdeltshe (prop), Jonker (centre), Clarke (prop), Pretorius (flyhalf), Cele (fullback), Jonas (utility back), Thyssen (hooker), Luzolo (flank), Ncube (lock) are all back, plus Runako Brynardt (flank) and Werner Coetzee (lock) who were 1st team regulars. Werner Coetzee is the brother of old SA Schools captain and WP No 8, Jaco Coetzee….just bigger…

  • Comment 20, posted at 21.07.17 13:16:29 by Grasshopper Reply

  • @sudhir (Comment 19) : Agree, just a proper conditioning program and diet, then he will be a beast. I think at 120kg with low body fat he will be immense….

  • Comment 21, posted at 21.07.17 13:26:21 by Grasshopper Reply

  • @Grasshopper (Comment 20) : Good news, nothing like continuity – ask the bottom dwelling Lions about this.

    Any idea where Marco Palvie is these days?

  • Comment 22, posted at 21.07.17 13:49:44 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
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  • @Grasshopper (Comment 20) : Werner Coetzee…. like how big?

  • Comment 23, posted at 21.07.17 13:55:01 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 23) : 196cm and 112kg in grade 11

  • Comment 24, posted at 21.07.17 14:15:11 by Grasshopper Reply

  • @Salmonoid the Subtle (Comment 22) : I believe he is studying at DUT and playing Sharks under19….not 100% sure.

  • Comment 25, posted at 21.07.17 14:18:22 by Grasshopper Reply

  • @Grasshopper (Comment 25) : Thanks.

  • Comment 26, posted at 21.07.17 14:30:13 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
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  • @Salmonoid the Subtle (Comment 9) : Well I would venture that Robert is certainly utilising his prodigious talent. Sure he isnt rated as a bok candidate, but I think his euros can definitely be quantified as successful. Sias less di.

  • Comment 27, posted at 21.07.17 14:39:44 by KingCheetah Reply

  • @Salmonoid the Subtle (Comment 17) : Ja I just think someone should be minding the nursery. Very closely. Evil unions like the bulls make very appealing offers to lure good but immature talent without these kids getting counseling and maybe a big picture perspective. I speak under correction, maybe there is some guidance in place. It just doesnt seem that way. They get lured by irresponsible parties like bulls, all get thrown in an overpopulated pool and eventually choke on each other. SARU really should manage the allowed quota of juniors better but that is another matter.

  • Comment 28, posted at 21.07.17 14:59:12 by coolfusion Reply

  • @KingCheetah (Comment 27) : Who said they werent successful, they were, I just said that all were expecting them to shoot the lights out which they havent done. Anyway the point was that being a Craven Week star does not mean that you will be a big boy star.

  • Comment 29, posted at 21.07.17 15:34:22 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
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  • @coolfusion (Comment 14) : Neither would have made the 1st xv at the time. Willem Alberts, Jacques Botes, Marcell Coetzee, Keegan Daniel (captain), Jean Deysel, Ryan Kankowski were our loosies and the reality is whitely in todays form would struggle to make the starting xv. Same can be said about combrink who would have been competing with JP pieterson.
    Our issue is not about retaining young talent, its with retaining core players

  • Comment 30, posted at 22.07.17 10:40:41 by byron Reply

  • Good to see the Director of rugby position starting to pay dividends .. This result started two or three years ago. Mayve Gary Gold was not that bad after all. I suspect that coaching may not have been his best strength

  • Comment 31, posted at 22.07.17 10:47:03 by byron Reply

  • @byron (Comment 31) : DOR position?

  • Comment 32, posted at 22.07.17 13:11:54 by Bokhoring Reply
  • @coolfusion (Comment 28) : I feel SA rugby needs a draft system very much like that of the NFL. Last place union gets first pick etc. granted there’d have to be tweaks and salary caps implemented but it’d be the best way to spread the talent.

  • Comment 33, posted at 22.07.17 13:56:32 by Hulk Reply


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