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    Sport
    08 March 2022

    Vodacom

    The Vodacom United Rugby Championship, ‘Doc’ Craven, and a dog named Bliksem

    The iconic Danie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch will make history when it hosts the Vodacom United Rugby Championship match between the DHL Stormers and Zebre Parma. Why is this so special?

    The Vodacom United Rugby Championship, ‘Doc’ Craven, and a dog named Bliksem 

    The iconic Danie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch will make history when it hosts the Vodacom United Rugby Championship match between the DHL Stormers and Zebre Parma. Why is this so special? Well, it’s a tale of South African rugby history, and it’s one we should start with the South African rugby legend himself.

    The ‘Doc’ 

    Danie “Doc” Craven is a world rugby icon and the recognised father of South African rugby. Capped 16 times for the Springboks – mostly at scrumhalf but with appearances at centre, flyhalf and even eighthman – it was as Springbok coach and administrator that he reached legendary status as the doyen of South African rugby for his revolutionary approach to the game and for shaping the Springboks into a world rugby force. When Craven took over as Springbok coach in 1949, the Boks won their first 10 matches in a row under him. He is recognised as one of the most successful Springbok coaches in history. He was also President of the South African Rugby Board, Chairman of the International Rugby Board, and the first South African to be inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame. The Craven Week – the premier South African schools rugby tournament – is named after him. But true to the Vodacom United Rugby Championship’s status as bringing together the best of the south in competition against the north, Craven also has roots in both hemispheres. His grandfather hailed from Steeton in West Yorkshire, and Craven named his Stellenbosch home Steeton.

    The Stadium 

    The Danie Craven Stadium was built in his honour in 1979 and has a capacity of 16 000. It hosts Varsity Cup games for the University’s home team, Maties. But it’s also hosted the Australia vs Romania match in the 1995 Rugby World Cup, and a touring England team narrowly won a match against a South African Federation team here by 23-21 in 1984. The great Springbok Errol Tobias – the first player of colour to play for the Springboks – was on the field that day. A bronze statue of Craven and his famous little dog, Bliksem (Afrikaans for either ‘hit’ or ‘troublemaker’) adorns the entrance to the stadium. The Stellenbosch mountains are a magnificent backdrop to one of the most beautiful stadiums in world rugby.

    The Danie Craven Stadium is the home of the University’s Maties Rugby Club, the second oldest rugby club in South Africa and founded as the Stellenbosch Rugby Football Club in 1875. Over 170 Springboks and 15 Springbok captains have pulled on the famous Maties maroon jersey.

    The Town 

    Stellenbosch is rugby heaven. This university town in the Cape winelands was the home of Paul Roos, the famous Springbok captain who led the first touring Springbok team to Britain in 1906 and who is credited with giving the team the name Springboks on that tour. A schoolteacher by trade, he served as headmaster of the town’s most famous high school – Paul Roos Gymnasium –which has produced the most Springboks of any South African school.

     

    Vodacom