Bryan Gary Habana (born June 12, 1983 in Benoni, Transvaal) is a South African rugby union player who plays as a wing for the Blue Bulls in the Currie Cup, theBulls in Super 14, and the 2007 Rugby World Cup champion Springboks. Habana was one of the stars of the World Cup, his eight tries equalling the record set byJonah Lomu in 1999, and was named the 2007 IRB Player of the Year.
Named after former Manchester United footballers Bryan Robson and Gary Bailey, he played outside centre and scrumhalf in provincial and age group rugby, but once he was moved to the wing a vast improvement was seen. Prior to his first year of Super Rugby he was selected for the Springboks, scoring a try with his first touch of the ball in test rugby in the end-of-season match against England at Twickenham in 2004. Habana is noted for his speed and has been timed as one of the fastest wingers in South African rugby; as proven when he famously raced a cheetah for charity. His time for the 100 metres sprint has been recently confirmed as 10.2 seconds, as highlighted by the S.A.R.U.
Habana won international acclaim for his championship-winning try in the 2007 Super 14 final, as one sportswriter put it: "It was one of the most amazing finales to a major game ever seen … Habana's swerving run was brilliant." Habana became an international rugby superstar in his own right with his record equalling 8 tries in the 2007 Rugby World Cup (the record set by Jonah Lomu in 1999), including some brilliant individual efforts.
Habana, developed by the Golden Lions and educated at King Edward VII School and Rand Afrikaans University (now a part of the University of Johannesburg), made his first senior international appearances as a member of the South African Sevens side in the 2003-04 World Sevens Series. He made his Currie Cup debut for the Lions in 2004, doing well enough to be voted the country's most promising player that year. That November, he made his Test debut against England at Twickenham as a 21-year-old. Though the game was lost 32-16, Habana came on as a reserve to score a try on debut against the then world champions. The following week Habana was moved into the starting line-up, where he contributed two tries to the 45-10 win over Scotland at Murrayfield. The next week, he was selected in the same position, on the left wing, in that year's final match against Argentina in Buenos Aires. Although he did not score any tries in the Argentina game, his current record stood at three tries from three tests.
In 2005, he moved to the Blue Bulls. Following the 2005 Super 12 season, Habana was, as expected, included in the 2005 Springboks squad. He played on the left wing in South Africa's opening match of 2005 against Uruguay, who the Springboks defeated 134-3, with Habana scoring two tries. South Africa then hosted Francefor a two test series; drawing the first 30-all, and winning the second 27-13, with Habana, scoring two tries in both games. In the lead-up to the 2005 Tri Nations, Habana played in two tests against Australia, the first, a loss at Telstra Stadium, and then a 33-20 win at home at Ellis Park, with Habana scoring in the second Test.
Habana made his Tri Nations debut on July 30 against the Wallabies at the Bulls' home of Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria. South Africa won the match 22-16. The subsequent match against the All Blacks at Newlandswas also a win for South Africa. In the second match against Australia in Perth, Habana scored two tries in the 22-19 win. The All Blacks won the last match of the series, a thrilling 31-27 win for the New Zealanders at Carisbrook. Although South Africa did not win the series, Habana had established himself on the international stage, finishing as the tournament's joint highest try-scorer with New Zealands' Doug Howlett and Joe Rokocoko. In the Currie Cup, the Blue Bulls made it to the final, which was played at home at Loftus Versfeld, against the Free State Cheetahs. The Cheetahs, somewhat underdogs, won the final. In November of that year, Habana earned caps for South Africa against Argentina, Wales and France, scoring two tries in the Welsh match. Habana was named to the five-man shortlist for 2005 IRB World Player of the Year, and was also selected by SA Rugby as 2005 South Africa Player of the Year in 2005.
In April 2007 Habana competed against a cheetah in a 100-meter race to help raise awareness of the imminent danger of the cheetah being classified as an endangered species, according to De Wildt officials. He lost, because cheetahs can run 60mph, instead of 22mph.
2007 Super 14
Habana's most dramatic act of the 2007 Super 14 season was his last minute try in the final, enabling flyhalf Derick Hougaard to make an easy conversion and giving the Bulls a dramatic 20-19 victory over the Sharks. The try was especially hard to take for Sharks fans as it is debatable if Habana should have even been on the field after dangerously tackling Fullback Percy Montgomery in the air, in the opening minutes of the game. Habana later admitted in an interview that despite not intending to cause Montgomery harm, he should have been sent off for the challenge.
2007 World Cup
Habana was selected on the wing for the Springboks first game of the 2007 Rugby World Cup, where he scored four tries in the 59-7 win over Samoa in Paris. He also scored two tries against Argentina in the semifinal, equalling Jonah Lomu's record of 8 tries in one World Cup. He was a part of the world cup winning side contributing to the defeat of England in the 2007 final. Habana was awarded the IRB Player of the Year Award at the 2007 IRB Awards, held in Paris on 21 October.
Although being arguably the fastest man in international rugby Bryan Habana was beaten by the pace and dazzling footwork of American Winger Takudzwa Ngwenya in what was recognized as the International Rugby Press Association's Try of the Year at the 2007 IRB Awards. During the victory parade in Newland's stadium in Cape Town a wacky supporter tried to tackle Habana for the Webb Ellis Cup, Habana defended the cup and the supporter came off second best. He now has a song about him called Habana!
Bryan Habana in 2007
Personal information Full name Bryan Habana Date of birth June 12, 1983 Place of birth Benoni, Gauteng, South Africa Height 179cm Weight 94kg Nickname Jet Shoes, Habernero, Dash School King Edward VIII School College Rand Afrikaans University Rugby union career Playing career Position Wing Provincial/State sides Caps (points) 2005-
Super Rugby 2005- Bulls 40 (120) [24t] National team(s) 2004- South Africa 39 (155) [31t]