Monday, 20 September 2010

Stranger than fiction?

There appears to be a certain amount of confusion at large about what teams are now allowed to do, or not do, in response to the Haka – something that once upon a time used to be a great piece of sporting theatre but what has in recent years turned into some sort of nonsensical politically correct hot potato.

I have previously made known my views on the Haka and in particular the ludicrous idea that the rugby world is expected to pay it some kind of awe-inspired respect, especially when virtually every response is in some way regarded as disrespectful and an affront to Maori culture.

For some reason, however, the IRB appears to have stuck its nose in where it is not wanted by fining the Wallaroos, Australia's women's rugby team, £1000 for advancing on the Black Ferns’ Haka before their World Cup pool match last month.

IRB tournament rules apparently now dictate that teams must face the Haka and remain motionless 10 metres on their own side of the halfway line, a protocol which would be laughable were it not so tragic.

The whole issue has been thrown into glorious confusion by a typically irreverent piece by our friends over at The East Terrace, the only problem being that the words used in the spoof article were then quoted verbatim as a genuine IRB statement by TVNZ who had somehow failed to get the joke.

Joking aside, it’s clear that the IRB have got this one badly wrong. I’d encourage every international team facing the All Blacks this season to breach this ludicrous protocol and take whatever fine is coming, so long as the message hits home that this stage-managed nonsense has gone far enough.


Anonymous said...

It is fairly clear that the IRB loves and adores NZ.
Hope that passes when old One-Eye o'Brien moves on.
As a test of the IRB's insanity I'd like to see Scotland come up with some bizarre chant and dance, and then have Wales advance on them and see if a similar fine is applied.

- Mort

rugbydad said...

Fully agree with you Flanker. Pleased the England Women took a step forward, should have been more though. Also agree with annonymous. Perhaps England, Men and Women, could adopt a suitable "traditional" performance. I have in mind perhaps Morris Dancing. Northumberland has produced some excellent dances involving swords, technically known as Rapper Dances, or perhaps The Lambeth Walk, or Hokey Cokey. As far as fines go I would suggest passing a bucket round the ground. There were plenty of people at The Stoop on Womens World Cup Final day who would have willingly paid a quid. Let's get this back in perspective. The Kiwi's can do there face pulling if they wan't but there has to be give and take. Final thought, don't suppose health and safety would smile on an impromptu community conga chain.

Ferdy said...

As a kiwi TF, I'm in two camps here. I hate how rugby teams get so precious about the haka. I think it's great when opposing teams offer a challenge, it adds to the drama that surrounds rugby both on and off the field. I personally don't think the All Blacks should do a haka in a visiting country unless they're invited to. On home ground, of course we shoud do it. It's part of a tradition that has been going for 100 years now and it's what lots of punters want to see.

Speaking of punters, the English/Australia media and true rugby experts (not of NZ heritage might I add) of course hate the haka because they think it gives the ABs an unfair advantage. But everyone I have met in my travels, from the most isolated villages to the biggest cities across the world - all talk about the haka when they find out I'm from NZ. WE're a small country. We're not known much on the world stage for anything else (unless you count hobbits and butter). Surely you can afford us this little luxury?

ps - the most fiery, emotional hakas I"ve ever seen the ABs perform (world cups 2003 against Oz and 2007 against France) didn't do much for our cause, did it?

Total Flanker said...

You hit the nail on the head Ferdy - it's a luxury. Unfortunately it's treated as a god-given right by the ABs.

I don't particularly think the haka gives the ABs an advantage - I just get pissed off with how precious they are about it.

Teams shouldn't be dictated to about how to react and if, for example, the WRU wants to sing the Welsh national anthem in Cardiff after the haka then so be it. The ABs should conform to the wishes of the hosting nation just as I'd expect us to conform to the wishes of the NZRU in NZ.

Being so damned defensive about the haka will invite more and more criticism - and eventually may result in it disappearing from the game which, imho, would be a shame.