How to Defend Against the Haka
“Watching 23 burly New Zealanders perform the iconic dance before kickoff is one of rugby’s unwritten rules. The All Blacks, the greatest team ever to play the game, have earned that right over a century of dominance”, writes Joshua Robinson for The Wall Street Journal.
The haka is “a custom of high social importance in the welcoming and entertainment of visitors…Tribal reputation rose and fell on their ability to perform the haka,” according to a description on the All Blacks official website.
“It’s something we’re proud of as part of our culture,” said Keven Mealamu, All Blacks player.
“I started doing the haka when I was 4 years old in my backyard.”
Often falsely referred to as war dance the haka hasn’t been challenged by a lot of teams.
The most famous challenge was by Ireland in 1989 when the Irish team marched forward until they were face to face with the All Blacks.
“I thought Willie Anderson (1989 Ireland captain) was going to kiss me”, said Wayne “Buck” Shelford, 1987 All Blacks captain. But the challenge did not affect their game – New Zealand won against the Irish 23-6.
Australia and England fans have tried to drown out the haka by singing or booing in the past.
Fiji, Samoa and Tonga fight the All Blacks haka with their own – haka against haka.
“The world’s haka-defier in chief is France”, according to the article.
“In the 2007 World Cup quarterfinals the French lined up two yards away, shoulder-to-shoulder, to stare down New Zealand” and in the 2011 World Cup final the French inched forward in a flying V-formation towards the team.
Back then France were fined $4,000 for interfering as the haka is protected by rugby’s world governing body. According to the protocol opponents must be on their own 10-meter line.
The true power of the haka “is the 80 minutes of rugby that follow”.
Article Source: Wall Street Journal, Joshua Robinson, October 21, 2015.
Image Source: Twitter – eNCA Sport