Bryan Habana (South Africa)
World Rugby Hall of Fame – Inductee No.166
Bryan Habana was crowned World Rugby Player of the Year for his stunning contribution to South Africa’s Rugby World Cup 2007 victory, becoming the second Springbok to receive the award after Schalk Burger in 2004.
The lightning-quick winger, who once famously took on a Cheetah in a sprint race, was nigh on unstoppable at the tournament in France, finishing as the top try-scorer after touching down a record-equalling eight times. Habana scored two more tries at Rugby World Cup 2011, to become the Springboks’ all-time leading try scorer, and added a further five in his tournament swansong in 2015 to take his overall tally to 15 and draw level with Jonah Lomu as the men’s Rugby World Cup all-time leading try scorer.
Habana announced his arrival in the test arena in November 2004 by making a try-scoring debut off the bench against England at Twickenham, scoring with his very first touch of the ball. That was the first of 67 tries in 124 tests for the Springboks, a record only bettered in world rugby by Japan’s Daisuke Ohata.
After initially impressing with the Golden Lions, Habana’s club rugby career moved on apace when he joined the Bulls in 2005. This is where the trophy-laden side of his career started as he won Super Rugby titles in 2007 and 2009 which he paired with a Currie Cup. He appeared in another Super Rugby final after switching to the Stormers before signing off in South Africa with a second Currie Cup success, this time with Western Province.
A move to reigning European champions Toulon followed and alongside other greats of the game like Jonny Wilkinson and Matt Giteau, Habana played a significant role in establishing the club as the team to beat. During his time on the Mediterranean coast, Habana won back-to-back European Cup winners medals in 2014 and 2015 as Toulon became the first, and only, club to win three titles on the bounce.