Haka attack

November 28, 2008

When the All Blacks take on England at Twickenham on Saturday there will be almost as much attention paid to the ceremonial pre-match haka as to the match itself.

Rugby crowds love the aggressive Maori challenge but many purists call it offensive, intimidating and out of date. Especially if their teams are the ones having to face it.

Columnist Frank Keating described it as “now charmless eye-rolling, tongue-squirming dance”.

Opposing teams have adopted a variety of tactics to meet the challenge — some go eyeball-to-eyeball with the New Zealanders, others have formed a team-talk circle and ignored them. Last weekend Wales continued the confrontation to such an extent that the referee had to insist that the two teams stop trying to stare each other out and get on with the game.

New Zealand head coach Graham Henry has urged England to respect the haka on Saturday.

Do you think they should?


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The New Zealanders call it a “war dance” but complain that the Welsh response was “asking for a fight”.

Isn’t a war dance asking for a fight? They can’t have it both ways so it’s their choice – do their war dance and accept whatever response is given, or behave in a civilised manner and expect other teams to do the same.

Posted by Jason | Report as abusive

All teams should respect, admire, and enjoy the Haka. This is as much a spectacle as the game, and people who moan about it being aggressive, should remember that the people who directly face it are professional rugby players , who then have to play the game. If these players are put off, or intimidated by it, they should not be on the pitch in the first place. For me as an avid ( English )Rugby fan, after seeing it many, many times, i still enjoy seeing it. Long may it continue !!

Posted by Blair Hunter | Report as abusive

I love the Haka. It builds excitement and is a really good start to a game. I think the way Ireland faced it was a little disrespectful, especially the level of respect that is generally in the game, whilst the way Wales faced up to it was excellent. They accepted the challenge and stood up to them, it was very refreshing to see, just a shame they couldn’t follow it up in the game.

Alex – England

Posted by Alex | Report as abusive

The whole thing is a bit contrived and childish and I’ve often wondered why they aren’t told by the rugby authorities to just get on with the game instead of wasting everyone’s time.

Now, if they brought along cheerleaders in grass skirts to add some colour and whip up a bit of enthusiasm, THAT would be worth watching!!

Posted by Peter | Report as abusive

To me the haka is gamesmanship, and gamesmanship is cheating. I would send off any player – or all the players – who engage in it. England should not play New Zealand until they stop performing this thing, which has no more place before a rugby game than a cavalry charge or an opera performance (with a nod to the cultural significance we are always told about, which ignores the fact that New Zealand is nearly 90% white).

Posted by Oliver Chettle | Report as abusive

Jason, (above) is dead right. The haka is nothing but a lot of uncivilised, idiotic twaddle. It has no place in the 21st.century, or any other for that matter.

Posted by John Davison | Report as abusive

I suggest the English players should have responded by doing the Birdie Song dance.

Posted by alex | Report as abusive

If the Kiwis want other people to respect their traditions, then maybe they should show some respect towards their hosts – by not vandalising cars at Heathrow hotels, for example.

Posted by alex | Report as abusive

Why are there so many do-gooders in this world that somehow are not able to “Live and let live” and think they are correct in politicising harmless traditions? The Haka is great and should not be stopped. I think it’s a big question of jelousy with most guys. They know they can’t compete with the sight of 15 hunks dressed in black doing a little teasing. It’s the mice, not the men, who feel intimated, whether they are spectators or players. Don’t let the wimps spoil it for all us girls. Keep it going, guys. We love it.

Posted by Jane | Report as abusive

Any team facing the Haka, should turn around, drop their shorts, and bend over – sorted :-)

Posted by Paul | Report as abusive