Habana's record-breaking feat goes almost unnoticed after the Boks' defeat in Argentina

29 August 2016 - 15:04 By Craig Ray


Bryan Habana’s 65th Test try‚ scored against the Pumas in Salta last Saturday‚ almost went unnoticed in the fallout over another chastening Test loss for the Springboks. The great wing’s 45th minute strike was a typically predatory finish after a sublime behind-the-back pass from flank Francois Louw.It was a score that also gave the Boks hope that they would escape with another narrow win. In the end they lost 26-24 but few players showed as much commitment and put in as much effort as the veteran 33-year-old wing. Coach Allister Coetzee recalled Habana for the Rugby Championship because he wanted the 119-Test cap player to guide and mentor inexperienced teammates.Habana did more than that on Saturday‚ as he became the leading try-scorer in Test Rugby from a tier one nation. His try also marked his 20th touchdown in the Rugby Championship – another record.His 65th try took him clear of Australia’s David Campese although Japan’s Daisuke Ohata is still the official Test try-scoring record holder with 68 in 59 ‘Tests’. Campese scored his tries in 101 Tests. Habana’s first try came on debut as a 21-year-old against England in 2004‚ when he came off the bench late in the game. He added two more the following weekend as the Boks beat Scotland 45-10 when he started as an inside centre. A week later Habana started at left wing for the first time – against Argentina in Buenos Aires.He failed to score but a long love affair with the No 11 jersey had begun. Habana’s strike rate remained impressive in his first full Test season in 2005 as he added six tries in three Tests the following June against France and Uruguay.He scored four in two Tests against the French and added two against the hapless Uruguay. His first Tri-Nations/Rugby Championship try followed during a 33-20 win over the Wallabies at Ellis Park and he opened his account against New Zealand later that season in Dunedin. Habana has so far has scored nine tries in 22 Tests against Australia and seven tries in 23 Tests against the All Blacks. Habana‚ of course‚ went on to become the leading try scorer at the 2007 World Cup with eight tries and that year he was named World Player of Year.He is now the joint leading World Cup try-scorer alongside Jonah Lomu with 15 after further tournaments in 2011 and 2015. In the opening game against Samoa in 2007 Habana scored four tries – the first time he’d scored more than two in a Test. He has subsequently scored hattricks against Australia (at Loftus in 2012) and the USA (at the Olympic Stadium in London in 2015). Habana equalled the Bok Test try-scoring record of 38 against Italy in June 2010 and had to wait over a year and 11 Tests before he broke Joost van der Westhuizen’s record against Namibia at the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand.It remains the longest barren spell of his career. Against Samoa at Loftus in 2013‚ Habana scored twice to move to 50 tries in Test rugby in 86 Tests. He was only the fourth player from a tier one nation to score 50 tries after Campese‚ Wales wing Shane Williams and England wing Rory Underwood.Williams scored 60 tries in 91 Tests for Wales and the British & Irish Lions and Underwood scored 50 tries in 91 Tests for England and the Lions. Habana is well clear of active players pursuing his record.New Zealand’s Julian Savea has scored 41 tries in 45 Tests and Australia’s Adam Ashley-Cooper is on 37 in 116 Tests.

This article is reserved for Sunday Times subscribers.

A subscription gives you full digital access to all Sunday Times content.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Registered on the BusinessLIVE, Business Day or Financial Mail websites? Sign in with the same details.



Questions or problems? Email helpdesk@timeslive.co.za or call 0860 52 52 00.