During the RWC semi-finals, the English Roses stepped out of bounds when they formed a V-shape facing the All Blacks during their haka performance. This created an abundance of criticism and a global controversy. Some deemed it to be disrespectful, and others couldn’t get mindless. Yet this gesture masterminded by head coach Eddie Jones led to the team being fined with a four-figure number. Still, the controversy came to no end. Now the outcry to stop the haka completely is getting louder and louder.
This age-old tradition has been part of the All Blacks pre-game performance for roughly a century already. It serves as an act of respect and a call to bring the entire team together as one. Now after the global controversy over the unorthodox reception which England gave the All Blacks during their RWC semi-final performance, it seems that many, even some in the All Black camp, think it is time to let it go. Chris Rattue, New Zealand sports commentator, is one of those vocal about this performance. He stated that he believes it to be taking the focus away from the players, and it saps the team’s energy and concentration before playing.
An Irish rugby writer by the name of Ewan MacKenna called earlier this month for the ban of this pre-match tradition. His argument was based on the fact that he believes that the haka is bringing an unfair advantage to the New Zealand team. This is not where he stopped in his argument against the tradition of their competition. MacKenna continued to say that the All Blacks are already arrogant and that haka is merely stimulating their egos even further.
Others stated boredom with the entire process. The sports columnist Kevin Norquay fired back though. In defence of the haka, he said that it is indeed a national treasure. He also compared the haka to Guinness and his argument as that the Irish couldn’t tell the Kiwi’s what to do with the haka any more than the Kiwi’s telling the Irish what to do with their Guinness. Either way, it seems that this year is the year in which the haka is placed under the spotlight. Various opinions and stances are fuelling the controversy which was sparked by England.
Since the semi-final’s performance, it became evident that Eddie Jones and Mako Vunipola were the masterminds behind the unusual way in which the English team behaved. Captain Farrell also came under discussion as the cameras caught him with a smirk on his face while facing the brute force of the display.
Later on, he was also accused of winking at Aaron Smith, All Black scrumhalf. Jones was convinced that their behaviour would rile up the team and based on the unusually poor performance which the All Blacks delivered, it seems that he was right. Maybe their power does lie in performing the haka, and then the question needs to be answered or does it indeed give them an unfair advantage?