Monday, October 22, 2007

Bryan Habana - International IRB Player of the Year

Winger Bryan Habana, who helped South Africa win the Rugby World Cup, has today (NZ time) been named International Rugby Board (IRB) Player of the Year. View video

Habana scored a record-equalling eight tries in the tournament though he was unable to add to his tally in a tight final the Springboks won by beating England 15-6 at the Stade de France yesterday.

South Africa's Jake White, whose team were the only unbeaten side in the tournament, was voted coach of the year and the Springboks took the team award.

The other four nominees for the award were Argentine pair Felipe Contepomi and Juan Martin Hernandez, France centre Yannick Jauzion and New Zealand flanker and captain Richie McCaw, last year's winner.

Habana, who started out as a halfback, is a fast and powerful runner who equalled the eight-try record that New Zealand wing Jonah Lomu set at the 1999 World Cup.

The 24-year-old also helped the Bulls beat the Sharks 20-19 in the all-South African Super 14 final in Durban in May, scoring one of their tries. Contepomi was the tournament's second highest scorer with a tally of 91, having added 19 points including two tries to his total in Argentina's 34-10 win over France in Friday's third-place playoff.

He was second only to South Africa fullback Percy Montgomery, who kicked 12 of the Springboks' points in the final. First five-eighth Hernandez was at the tactical fulcrum of Argentina's remarkable tournament in which they won six of their seven matches, his kicking reaching a zenith with three superb drop goals in the 30-15 pool-winning victory over Ireland.

McCaw departed the World Cup early when favourites New Zealand went out at the quarter-final stage for the first time, beaten by France.

The French were unable to build on that victory and failed to reach the final, losing their semifinal 14-9 to defending champions England.

Adapted from - October 22, 2007