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Known as ‘Mr Rugby’, Danie Craven served South African rugby across seven decades, as Springbok captain and coach and administrator, from 1931 until his death in 1993.
Predominantly a scrum-half, Craven’s versatility also saw him capped at fly-half, centre and number eight. In total, he won 16 caps for the Springboks, whom he captained four times. The advent of World War II brought an end to his playing career, aged 27.
After his appointment as national coach in 1949, the Springboks won 10 matches in a row, including a 4-0 whitewash of the visiting All Blacks.
Craven was a three-time chairman of the IRB Council and presided over both the South African Rugby Board and the unified South African Rugby Football Union, which he helped form in 1992.
His name lives on through Craven Week, the first non-racial South African schoolboy competition which he was instrumental in launching in 1964, a truly visionary concept in a country gripped by apartheid.
My father was an amazing man. He had integrity. He knew the game. He was innovative. He was a raconteur. He was a coach. He was often impatient with journalists and referees! But he could inspire. Above all he loved the game of rugby. He said it brought people together. It brought and brings our nation together. We need the game of rugby. It gives us hope for the future.
Danie's biggest asset in his relationship with players, perhaps, is the fact that he understands them so well - their foibles, fears, hopes, their innermost thoughts. He is able to put himself in the player's boots.