FACE-OFF ED­DIE O’SUL­LI­VAN BEN FRANKS

Should the haka be banned from rugby?

Rugby World - - FRONT ROW -

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?

Rick

Rick

Rick

Ken Crim­i­nals be­ware, Jim Bar­clay from Le­ices­ter has as­sem­bled this team of TV sleuths. Send your al­ter­na­tive XV to rug­by­worldlet­ters@ti-me­dia.com

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