Sporting trailblazers - Dr Danie Craven

April 30, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

All sports have their trailblazers, whether it is Don Bradman, Graeme Pollock or Viv Richards' batting, Bobby Jones winning the grand slam of golf in 1929 or famous rugby giants like Frik du Preez, Colin Meads or Willie John McBride. Often during a tournament or match we see something that reminds us of these trailblazers - an intensity that reminds us of Jack Nicklaus on Sunday on the 2nd nine in a major, or something I saw last week from the Singapore substitute scrumhalf playing against the Western Force A in Perth - the diving pass! - This pass was made famous by Danie Craven during the 1937 Springboks tour of New Zealand - arguably the best Springbok team ever, also becoming the first team to beat New Zealand at home in a Test series. The next team that achieved this was the mighty 1971 British Lions which did the same when they toured South Africa in 1974 - but more about that team later.

WFaS646WFaS646Western Force A vs Singapore at Cottesloe’s Harvey Field on Saturday 25th April 2015 : Image by Johan Schmidt

Tradition has it that Danie Craven developed this diving technique to get the wet, heavy and slippery leather ball as quickly and accurately to his backline on the muddy fields of New Zealand.

Danie Craven, who was selected for South Africa at the age of 19 before making his provincial debut for Western Province, played for, captained and coached the Springboks and is the longest serving President of the South African Rugby Board. When appointed coach in 1949, he won 10 games in a row which included a 4-0 whitewash over Fred Allen's All Blacks in South Africa. As Wikipedia puts it ... "In 2007 he became the third inductee into the IRB Hall of Fame, only preceded by Rugby School and William Webb Ellis, the alleged instigator of the game that would develop into rugby union"

Wonderful to see the diving pass again!


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