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Huge IRB honour for Craven
2007-11-07 14:02:00

In South Africa there was - at least till some people disfigured it - great joy and excitement at the winning of the World Cup on Saturday. Then the Springboks were honoured by being the IRB's Team of the Year, Bryan Habana was the Player of the Year and Jake White the Coach of the Year. It was exciting, and then the Springboks came home to a cheering welcome and parades around the country.

It went almost unnoticed that Danie Craven had been inducted into the IRB's Hall of Fame, and even that honour had more to it.

The IRB had called for nominations to add to its Hall of Fame which had just two inductees - Rugby School and William Webb Ellis. That was done in 2006. This year's induction was just the second.

A list of nominations was drawn up and the vote thrown open to the world. The nominees were Francis Campbell, Thomas Hughes, Richard Sykes, GEL Cotton, Charles Barrington, Albert Hamersley, Sir Henry Milton, Arthur Gould, HH Almond, Pierre de Coubertin, AE Stoddard and RL Seddon, Richard Mullock. Ned Haig, Lord Wakefield of Kendall, Daniel Carroll, Danie Craven, Ken Catchpole, George Nepia, Robert Soro, Bleddyn Williams, Willie John McBride, Gareth Edwards, Adrian Stoop, Sir Wilson Whineray, Gareth Rees, Colin Meads, John Eales, Jason Leonard, Vernon Pugh, Philippe Sella, Diego Ormaechea, Gary Hamilton Teichmann.

The committee to chose the new inductees was Syd Millar, the chairman of the IRB, Gerald Davies (Wales), Nigel Starmer-Smith (England), Henri Garcia (France), Don Cameron (New Zealand) and Pablo Mamone (Argentina) with Chris Thau of the IRB as the secretary.

The committee chose the following - Pierre de Coubertin, Wilson Whineray, Danie Craven, Gareth Edwards and John Eales (21st century).

Not only did Craven receive this award which included a velvet cap in a glass case, but he was named No.3 inductee, that is just behind Rugby School and William Webb Ellis, a huge honour.

Present to receive the award on behalf of South Africa and the Craven Family was Doc Craven's oldest child, Joan Roux, a lecturer at Stellenbosch University. The IRB brought her and her husband Piet to Paris for the final and the awards dinner, at which she spoke about "the remarkable honour bestowed on our country" and she mentioned the final - "too tense for comfort, too tactical for sparkling rugby but ultimately at the final whistle relief and tumultuous joy".

Briefly, the reasons for the nominations were:

Francis Campbell, the first treasurer of the Football Association, led a walk-out that led to preservation of the Rugby way of playing the game and the founding of the Rugby Football Union.

Thomas Hughes, captain of Rugby School in 1839, wrote the famous novel Tom Brown's Schooldays.

Richard Sykes got rugby going in California in the 1860s.

GEL Cotton was the first to introduce compulsory games into schools when he was the headmaster of Marlborough. He was later the Anglican Bishop of Calcutta.

Charles Barrington has been described as the father of Irish rugby.

Albert Hamersley played in the first Test in 1871, then was one of the founders of the Canterbury Rugby Union in New Zealand and then of the British Columbia Rugby Union in Canada.

Sir William Milton played for England and did much to persuade the Cape to switch from its form of football to the Rugby game. Two of his sons played for England.

Arthur Gould of Wales was one of the greatest players of all time.

HH Almond did much to establish rugby in Scotland and to develop the game as a handling game.

Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic Games, was a keen rugby player and a top referee. He did much to include rugby football in the Olympic Games.

AE Stoddard and RL Seddon were the captains of the Anglo-Welsh team to Australasia in 1887, the first team so to tour. Seddon was the original captain but drowned in Brisbane.

Richard Mullock did much in the founding of the Welsh Rugby Union and in getting Wales to play international rugby.

Ned Haig, the Melrose butcher, invented Sevens rugby because he could not raise a team of 15 in Melrose.

Lord Wakefield of Kendall captained England in a most successful time and became the president of the RFU.

Daniel Carroll was an original Wallaby and with them won a gold medal at the Olympic. Settled in the USA he coached and played for the USA team which beat France to win a gold medal at the 1920 Olympics.

Ken Catchpole of Australia was one of the world's best scrumhalves ever.

George Nepia was one of the giants of New Zealand rugby, the best fullback in the world in his time.

Robert Soro of France was called the Lion of Swansea after he, a lock, led his team to their first victory on Welsh soil after 38 years.

Bleddyn Williams, a wonderful centre, captained Wales when they beat the All Blacks in 1953, the last time they did so.

Willie John McBride was a legendary captain of Ireland and the Lions, most notably in South Africa on the unbeaten tour of 1974.

Gareth Edwards played for Wales at the age of 19 for the first time and became captain at the age of 20. He was on the victorious Lions' tours to New Zealand in 1971 and to South Africa in 1974. At the end of the 20th century he was voted the greatest rugby player ever.

Adrian Stoop, the great Harlequin of Dutch extraction, developed flyhalf play, captained England and became the president of the RFU.

Sir Wilson Whineray was a great and charismatic captain of New Zealand.

Gareth Rees did much to put Canadian rugby on the map. He played for Canada in the first four World Cups.

Colin Meads, the great Pinetree, was the epitome of New Zealand forward play - a great rugby player, a great man.

John Eales, a player of astonishing, natural talent, twice played in Australian teams which won World Cups - in 1991 and 1999.

Jason Leonard, a quintessential prop, retired as the most capped rugby international of all time and still is the most capped forward of all time.

Vernon Pugh, QC, the chairman of the IRB from 1994 to 2002, took rugby into professionalism.

Philippe Sella, the dashing French centre, was thew first player to reach 100 Tests.

Diego Ormaechea was 40 when he led Uruguay at the 1999 Rugby World Cup in Australia, his second World Cup. He then coached Uruguay at the 2003 Rugby World Cup.

Gary Teichmann, played more consecutive Tests for South Africa than anybody else and also captained South Africa more times than anybody else, feats surpassed by John Smit.

And Danie Craven?

Daniel Hartman Craven played for South Africa from 1931, when he was 20, till 1938. He captained the Springboks and played scrumhalf, flyhalf, centre, fullback and No.8 for the Springboks at a time when the Springboks ruled the world, including a Grand Slam tour in 1931-32 and the first team to win a series in New Zealand, in 1937. He was a national selector and the coach and the manager of Springbok teams. He coached Stellenbosch from 1947 to 19990. He was the president of the South African rugby Board from 1956 to 1991 when he led it into politically acceptable unity and became the first executive president of the South African Rugby Football Union. He was the author of many books on the game, historical, biographical and technical, He was a great motivator and thinker about the game and did much on the Laws of the Game. For the last decade and more of his life he went round South Africa encouraging racially mixed rugby and was the president when the first wave of unity on South African rugby occurred. In his time Errol Tobias became the first black man to play for South Africa.

His contribution to the game was manifold.

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