Springbok legend Bryan Habana will be inducted into the Hall of Fame at the World Rugby Awards in Paris on October 29.
He is one of five legends that will be inducted. The others are Dan Carter (New Zealand), Thierry Dusautoir (France), George Smith (Australia) and Juan Martín Hernández (Argentina).
Habana was crowned World Rugby Player of the Year for his stunning contribution to South Africa’s World Cup 2007 victory, becoming the second Springbok to receive the award after Schalk Burger in 2004.
The lightning-quick wing, 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 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 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.
Carter, a two-time World Cup winner and the record points-scorer in Test rugby, produced a virtuoso display in the 2015 Final to help New Zealand create history by winning back-to-back tournaments.
RWC 2007 was a breakout tournament for Argentina with Hernández pulling the strings as Los Pumas stunned hosts France twice en route to winning the bronze final.
Dusautoir and Smith, meanwhile, suffered final heartbreak in 2003 and 2011 respectively.
Influential, innovative, inspiring.
— World Rugby (@WorldRugby) October 10, 2023
World Rugby Chairman and Hall of Fame inductee Bill Beaumont said: “Rugby World Cup 2023 is our 200th birthday party, the sport’s greatest celebration of togetherness. We are proud to be inducting five legends of the game, players who are indelibly linked to the remarkable World Cup story.
“Each have played a huge role in making the sport what it is today, exciting and inspiring in equal measure, while always being superb ambassadors for their sport. Their impact was greater than the field of play, it transcended sport and society, taking rugby to another level. Congratulations to our inductees. We look forward to celebrating their achievements at the World Rugby Awards in Paris on 29 October.”
Fellow World Rugby Hall of Fame inductee and Chairman of the Hall of Fame panel John Eales said: “As our game celebrates another successful Rugby World Cup it is timely to recognise those who have contributed to making our game the wonderful global sport that it is. Today we induct a series of rugby players into the World Rugby Hall of Fame who have each thrived on the world stage as exemplars of the athletic requirements of our game, and just as importantly, as ambassadors of the values of our game. Congratulations to our five inductees.”
World Rugby Hall of Fame 2023 inductees:
No.162 – Dan Carter (New Zealand)
No.163 – Thierry Dusautoir (France)
No.164 – George Smith (Australia)
No.165 – Juan Martín Hernández (Argentina)
No.166 – Bryan Habana (South Africa)