Aah speet on your haka, you feelthy Kiwi peegs
So let’s get this straight. New Zealand teams can perform a ritualised tribal war dance before sporting contests, complete with throat-slitting gesture. But if the opposition has the temerity to encroach upon them, that’s unacceptable.
Worse than unacceptable. It’s a protocol breach apparently deserving of a $15,000 fine, which is the amount rugby’s governing body the IRB plans on slugging the French.
Prior to Sunday’s Rugby World Cup final, the All Blacks assumed their usual formation for their customary bout of tongue-wagging, eyeball popping and general silliness, culminating in the delightfully family-friendly act of throat-slitting.
The French weren’t taking that lying down, and advanced upon the All Blacks in a V formation. Good on them. They neither stole the show nor stopped it. It was just their way of saying “we’re not passive spectators here”, just as they turned out to be anything but passive spectators in the desperately close final, which they probably should have won.
Fact is, the All Blacks have performed the haka unchallenged for too long. No one denies it is both a brilliant piece of theatre and a perfectly noble way of honouring the Maori heritage which underpins so much of New Zealand rugby, and indeed so much of New Zealand culture.
But that doesn’t mean other teams deserve no right of reply.
In 1996, John Eales’s Wallabies famously turned their backs on the haka. That was disrespectful, and Eales has often spoken of his regret for that decision, not least because his team was thumped 43-6 that day.
OK, so Eales got the execution wrong. But his thinking was right. Why stand there and just cop it? Why not counter it in some way? When a boxer trash talks his rival before a bout, the other guy gets a right of reply. Why not with the haka too?
Others have done better. Ireland memorably impinged upon the haka back in 1989. The commentator said he’d “not seen that before”, but little more was made of it.
More recently, Irish club side Munster shocked the All Blacks with their own haka. Cop that!
It’s unclear exactly what the bloated members of the IRB actually do for a living, except protect northern hemisphere rugby interests and fail to schedule tournaments fairly for minnow nations. But it’s clear they should take steps to allow nations to counter the haka in the manner they desire. Memo to All Blacks: you ain’t the only ones with heritage.
If the IRB does nothing, and sticks to its ludicrous decision to fine France, well, they might as well only play one team’s anthem before the game. They might as well only allow fans from New Zealand to attend All Blacks games. Indeed, they might as well just hold every damned rugby World Cup in New Zealand.
The Kiwis would like that. After all, it’s the only place they ever win one.
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