2007 Inductee: Dr Danie Craven

(IRB.COM) Saturday 1 December 2007
 2007 Inductee: Dr Danie Craven
A painted portrait of Dr Danie Craven as a Springbok

IRB Hall of Fame - Induction No 3 - Dr. Daniel Hartman Craven (1910-1993), South Africa

Personal Details

- Born: October 11, 1910, Steeton' Farm, Lindley, Orange Free State, South Africa
- Died: January 4th, 1993, at Stellenbosch
- Family: He was the third of seven children, six boys and one girl, his sister Myra, the youngest of the seven. (His paternal grandfather was hailing from Steeton in Yorkshire - hence the name of the farm “Steeton” - name he later on gave it to his house in Stellenbosch).
- He married Beyera Hayward of Steytlerville (daughter of George Hayward MP) in 1938. They had three sons George, Daniel and James Craven and a daughter Joan married Roux – a mathematician at Stellenbosch University. His second wife was Merle Vermeulen.
- Education - Lindley High School, Stellenbosch University, 3 PhDs in Psychology, Physical education and Social Anthropology plus an Honorary Doctorate.
- Nickname – ‘Mr Rugby’
- Sports: He was a fine track and field athlete, played cricket, tennis and represented Stellenbosch University at rugby (captain), swimming (captain), water polo and baseball. He played a lot of soccer at school and for the SA Army in 1939.
- One of his younger brothers Marius played scrum-half for Eastern Province.

Professional career

- Teacher at St Andrew's College, Grahamstown
- Director of PE at the Military College in Pretoria then commander of the PTB
– Physical Training Brigade 1938-1948 (with one year interruption 1947)
- Lector at Stellenbosch  Union Education Department Stellenbosch University 1947
- The first professor of Physical Education (now Sports Science) at Stellenbosch University 1949-1975
- Director of Sport and Recreation at Stellenbosch University (1976-1981)
- Director of Sport Institute at Stellenbosch University (1982-1984)

Academic Degrees
- BA in Social Sciences and Social Anthropology 1931-32
- Master of Arts (cum laude) Ethnology 1933
- Doctorate (PhD) in Ethnology University of Stellenbosch 1935
- Psychology II and III 1960-1961
- Honours in psychology, (cum laude) 1962
- Master’s degree in Psychology 1964
- Doctorate (PhD) in Psychology University of Pretoria 1973
- Doctorate (PhD) in Physical Education University of Stellenbosch 1978
- Doctorate in Literature and Philosophy, honoris causa, University of Stellenbosch

Rugby Career

- Main position - Scrum half, hailed as one of the greatest dive-passers of all-time - also capped as centre, fly half and No 8. He played once as a full-back in a non-test match in Australia.
- Influences: The legendary A.F.Markotter was his mentor at Stellenbosch. He once said: "Remember Craven. I only shout at people I like."
- Clubs: Stellenbosch University, Albany (Grahamstown), Garrison (Pretoria), He played one match for Steytlerville.
- Provinces: Western Province, Eastern Province, Northern Transvaal.
- National Selector 1938-1949
- Coaching: Stellenbosch University, South Africa 1949-1956. With Craven as coach the Springboks played 23 tests, winning 17.
- He became President of the South African Rugby Board in 1956 and stayed in the chair until 1992, when he became co-president, with Ebrahim Patel, of the newly formed SARFU.
- He became a member of the IRB council in 1957 and chaired it in 1962, 1973 and 1979.

Craven was the coach of the 1950-51 Springboks

Rugby Statistics 

- International debut - 5 December 1931 (aged 21 yrs 55 days) v Wales at Swansea. By that time he had not yet played provincial rugby.
- Final test - 10 September 1938 (as captain) v Lions at Cape Town.
- International appearances -28 appearances of which 16 tests (four as captain) with 12 wins and four losses 1931-1938.
- Other tour matches for the Springboks 22.
- He played in five positions: scrumhalf, flyhalf, centre and No.8 in test matches and at fullback in a provincial tour match (against Queensland)
- After his appointment as national coach in 1949, the Springboks won 10 matches in a row (undefeated until 1953), including a 4-0 whitewash of the visiting New Zealand.

Rugby Highlights

- Craven skippered South Africa in the first test against New Zealand at Wellington in 1937 and in all three tests against the 1938 Lions. Ho won the toss in the latter three tests with a 'lucky' gold ten-shilling piece given to him by the Mayor of Johannesburg.

- “Who were the best touring side to leave New Zealand? they used to ask tongue in cheek in New Zealand. The reply is edifying “The 1937 Springboks”.

- When Second World War broke out, Craven was only 27 and his playing career was over. The next test SA played was 11 year later, with Craven as coach and selector.

- South Africa lost only one match during the 1931-32 tour when Craven was a player. Similarly the Springboks lost only one match during their 1951-52 tour when he was coach.

- In 1988, he defied the SA government and travelled to Harare to meet leaders of the ANC (which was a criminal offence at the time) and brokered an agreement to form a single rugby association fielding an integrated team for overseas tournaments. This first step paved the way for the formation of the unified body, SARFU in 1992 with Craven as one of its co-presidents, until his death the following year, having served for an unbroken 37 years at the helm of the sport.

- He was instrumental in launching the first non-racial rugby competition in South African sport, called the Craven week, in 1964, involving school children of all races and creeds, a truly visionary concept in the apartheid ridden South Africa.

- The title of his autobiography was 'Ek Speel vir Suid-Afrika.' He wrote several books, including 'Danie Craven on Rugby', 'Springbok Story 1949-53'.

What he said

"I have never heard such a speech as Bennie Osler's before my debut against Wales. Silently we listened to every word. Every word gives us more strength and courage. We will live! We will die for South Africa!" 

"We must do more than play open rugby in the sense that the term means merely feeding the wings. The ball must come back to the inside backs and forwards in driving, penetrative movements. We will need close support all the time and backing up must be one of our constant objectives. If we play rugby in this manner, it will not matter what the results are,” his speech to the team before the 1951-52 tour when he coached the Springboks.

What they said about him

Hennie Muller: "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."

Joan Roux (his daughter, on his induction in the IRB Hall of Fame) : "Mesdames  Messieurs, I thank you for this most incredible award.
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. Thank You."