England fined for haka response in semi-final
England have been fined after their V-shape formation response to New Zealand’s haka at last weekend’s Rugby World Cup semi-final, despite a positive response from both All Blacks players and World Rugby’s social media channels.
Protocol states opponents must remain in their own half while the All Blacks perform the traditional dance, but several England players ignored the efforts of officials to usher them back.
Despite the fine, New Zealand’s beaten coach Steve Hansen praised the way England faced down the haka, calling it “brilliant and imaginative”.
All Blacks hooker Dane Coles described it as “awesome”, joking that England would be happy to take the financial hit.
Additionally, World Rugby’s YouTube channel captioned the video as “incredible” while also accumulating more than four million views.
The amount of the fine was not revealed but, in 2011, France were docked £2,500 (Dh11,800) after they formed an arrowhead shape and marched towards the haka before the World Cup final in Auckland.
England won the blockbuster semi-final 19-7 to dethrone the two-time defending champions and will take on South Africa in Saturday’s final.
As New Zealand lined up to begin the haka, England’s players opted not to face the challenge shoulder-to-shoulder, as is customary, and instead lined up in a V formation and even forged ahead as if to envelop them.
At the tips of the formation, six players appeared to be in New Zealand’s half.
Mako Vunipola revealed that coach Eddie Jones had come up with the idea as a ploy to “rile up” the All Blacks.
World Rugby said England had breached rules “relating to cultural challenges”, but Hansen applauded the actions of the English players.
“I thought their response was fantastic,” he said. “They didn’t get fined for responding to the haka – they got fined for coming over halfway. The haka requires a response. It’s a challenge to you, personally. I thought it was brilliant and quite imaginative, too.”