RWC #37: Samoa can’t catch Bryan Habana as he runs in four

South Africa winger shows why he’s the world’s best in 2007 World Cup opener

Bryan Habana was the best winger on the planet in 2007 and it showed as he ran in four tries against Samoa in South Africa’s 2007 World Cup opener. Photograph: Getty

Bryan Habana was the best winger on the planet in 2007 and it showed as he ran in four tries against Samoa in South Africa’s 2007 World Cup opener. Photograph: Getty

 

Having made his test debut against England in 2004 the 2007 World Cup was the perfect stage for South Africa’s electric winger Bryan Habana.

By now fully established as one of the best players around, but still only 24, Habana was ready to take the world by storm.

He’d prepared for the tournament, naturally, by challenging a cheetah to a 100m race in a bid to raise awareness of the planet’s fastest animal nearing extinction. Unsurprisingly he lost, because Cheetahs can run 75mph.

But while Habana was no match for a really fast cat he was, it seemed, by far the fastest man on a rugby pitch.

Racing out of the blocks as though he was looking for a PB on the track, Habana’s World Cup began with a bang against Samoa as he ran, or sprinted, in four tries in a 59-7 romp at the Parc des Princes.

Each try showcased the attributes which for a while made Habana untouchable - strength, power and above all sheer pace.

His first, in particular, demonstrated why he was so lethal. Collecting the ball wide inside the opposition 10 metre, he sears infield, ignoring support before changing angle and having the speed to leave the Samoan defence dead from a standing start and then holding off the cover to crash over the line.

Habana went on to equal Jonah Lomu’s record for the most tries scored in a World Cup, crossing the line eight times as South Africa lifted the Webb Ellis Cup.

He then went on to be awarded the IRB Player of the Year, once again showing the rest a clean pair of heels. Well, apart from one man…

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