Eng­land fined for haka re­sponse in semi-fi­nal

The National - News - - SPORT RUGBY WORLD CUP - The Na­tional

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.”

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