The rate of doping in high school level rugby being uncovered at Craven Week in South Africa has increased over the years due to pressure.
With Craven Week being a pivot point that can make or break an aspiring rugby players career in 7 days, the pressure being felt by high school kids to perform has turned them looking in all the wrong places for help.
Craven Week is a week-long high school level rugby tournament held in South Africa, in which local and international scouts flock to in order to find the next generation of rugby talent. It is the place where most of South Africa’s top rugby players started from.
Dr Jon Patricios who is also a consultant to South African Rugby Union went on to explain the reasons behind the pressure felt by high school rugby players at Craven Week, which may give insight to the increasing number of positive doping tests being discovered at Craven Week:
“Craven Week is pretty much a watershed. If you break through at that level you are going to be noticed, pulled into the Varsity Cup system, contracted to unions and the path is easier for you,”
— sportspigeon (@sportspigeon1) March 3, 2020
“Those kids that don’t break through then and make it later are few and far between.”
The number of positive tests at Craven Week is gradually increasing over time”
YEAR No Of Positive Tests
The South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS) tested a total of 1,585 athletes over the 2018/19 season. Out of the 342 rugby player tested, 50 tested positive for anti-doping rule violations (ADRVs) which was the highest in any single discipline.
If these are just the results of the schoolboys getting caught of Craven Week, one shudders to think what statistics would be if all schools across the country were to get tested.
A survey carried out in 2014 revealed that out of 12,000 u23 rugby playing boys, up to a tenth of them had at one point tried steroids.