FACE-OFF EDDIE O’SULLIVAN BEN FRANKS
Should the haka be banned from rugby?
EX-IRELAND AND USA HEAD COACH
We all cherish strands of our own culture but we don’t inflict them on opposing teams. In fact, rugby is the only sport that allows an international team the opportunity to demonstrate their culture immediately before the game and the opposition must passively observe that cultural demonstration.
There is a sense of unfairness around a team doing the haka just before a game kicks off. The haka is a motivational tool and the
ceremonial ‘war dance’ offers the All Blacks a chance
to intimidate their opponents. Other than the opposing side standing
passively in front of the haka, there seems to be no acceptable response
available to the opposition. The NZ union has never offered an acceptable response to their opponents and New Zealanders have taken offence on many occasions when teams attempted to respond, such as the 2005 Lions.
Nobody would object to teams performing the haka after the game, as is standard protocol on the World Sevens Series.
SAINTS AND EX-ALL BLACKS PROP
I know people associate the haka with the All Blacks but in New Zealand every school has its own haka, towns and clubs have their own haka, so it’s ingrained.
New Zealand is pretty multicultural and with the haka we all come together. It’s part of the All Blacks’ heritage, done almost from day one, so it’s important to us as a country.
Rugby is entertainment. The haka adds to the atmosphere of the game, to the build-up. It isn’t alone in that; in Wales, they’re singing in the stadium, in England SwingLow is part of it. The haka is also a challenge – it was traditionally performed by tribes before battle – and you can accept it any way you want. Down the years you’ve seen a lot of different responses to it.
It’s a challenge by a small nation that has travelled halfway around the world to challenge the big nations in rugby. Most of the time it’s drowned out by thousands of people singing. It all adds to it. Would you really want to see Ireland play NZ in Dublin with no haka?
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Dance class Does the haka give NZan unfair advantage?