What would be wrong with ignoring the Haka?

New Zealand ritual gets special privilege in world rugby.

Why exactly does every other team in the world have to stand and face the New Zealand players doing the Haka in front of them? This is something I’ve never been able to fathom. It has never been obvious to me, and I know you’ll probably call me a fool for it, but I have never been able to grasp why one particular rugby team should be afforded the special privilege of cavorting in front of all the others before a match. And yes, before you say it, I know that the Islanders do it too, but we’re talking here about serious contenders for the Cup.

haka Would world rugby be happy with Ireland performing a Riverdance in front of all their opponents?

Would it be all right if Argentina played keepy-uppy while the All Blacks were sticking their tongues out?

Would it be acceptable if the Scots played bagpipes at everyone, on the basis that this is their culture?

Of course it wouldn’t, and yet we seem happy to accept the Haka, a relatively recent phenomenon compared to New Zealand teams of former years who engaged in a half-hearted hand-waving slightly embarrassed demi-dance.


Why should anyone have to stand in front of a pumped-up display of aggression with no right of reply?  When exactly did New Zealand become the owners of world rugby? Who do they think they are?

Forget this nonsense. No team is more important than any other and no team is entitled to a psychological advantage, so why precisely is New Zealand afforded such an advantage?

There’s no logic to it, unless everyone is afforded the same opportunity.

So let me repeat the question. What would be wrong with ignoring the Haka? What would be wrong with our players continuing to warm up while the New Zealand players make fools of themselves?




22 thoughts on “What would be wrong with ignoring the Haka?

  1. As the Major said to Basil, “…but it’s their tradition isn’t it…”.

    I fully agree. It’s professional sport at international level. Anthems are enough. Its a form of pre-match sledging that rugby can do without.

  2. The Haka and the AB image is central to World Rugby’s marketing and hope of creating a truly global game.

    The faux reverence for it is getting a bit old. Let’s move on and play some rugby instead of worshipping this nonsense.

  3. I disagree.

    Keep the Hakas of the various SH teams. They are a central part of the theatre of world rugby. Remember the emotion and atmosphere in Thomond Park in 2008?

    Anthems are (generally) so trite and so soulless, France excepted. Imagine the rush of adenellin and emotion the lads must get from Ireland’s Call (sarcasm). Maybe we could introduce Singers Choice before a home game.

  4. That’s fine. Is there any reason why other teams shouldn’t perform some sort of ritual before a game if they wish to?

  5. I am sure others will have more information about this.
    But I believe it goes back before playing national anthems was commonplace . When before a match between themselves and Wales it was decided that the Welsh sang a hymn and New Zealand did the haka. I think it was about 1904.

  6. There are idiosyncrasies in rugby.

    Teams going to play at the Stade Jean Dauger in Bayonne must wait while the fans all stand to sing the club anthem La Pena Baiona. The teams do not come out onto the pitch until the anthem reaches a crescendo. I have never seen it happen at another club and wonder what would happen if the opposition decided they were going out before the anthem started.

    (Admittedly, it has not done Bayonne much good!)

  7. It seems to me there’s a difference between a team’s customs in their home ground and a ritual like the haka that NZ impose on the whole world.

  8. Fair point.

    Perhaps the answer is to devalue the process by insisting on the right of every other country to perform their own chosen ritual. An English morris dance would be as much a mockery of the haka dancers as Stade Francais’ mocking of opponents in their wearing of jerseys with pictures of princesses and flowers

  9. I’d love to see the English morris dancing, and the French could do a can-can. Our guys could Riverdance and the Argentineans could tango.

  10. And where would that leave the Australians? Playing massed didgeridoos or singing a Ralph Harris songs? They have no national dance.

  11. Bock,

    You state that “Why exactly does every other team in the world have to stand and face the New Zealand players doing the Haka in front of them?” The fact is that there is nothing in the rules that compels the opposing team to stand and face the Haka. The opposing team can turn their backs. continue their warm-up or just assume their positions on the pitch. The Haka has reached its nonsense simply because other teams stand foolishly and watch it, ignore it and it looses its impact.

  12. I agree. A myth grew up that it would be unwise to make them angry, but in the modern game, that’s exactly what you want to happen.

  13. Seems to be as much a marketing tool these days as anything else. It’s like fans turn up and want to see it. They’d probably moan if the kiwis didn’t do it, but yeah, probably nothing stopping teams doing what good old David Campese did!

  14. If I’m not mistaken, the Haka is a Maori tradition and yet the majority of New Zealanders in general and the majority of All Blacks players are of European descent rather than of Maori descent. Are we therefore not looking at an example of cultural appropriation? For all we know, the Maori warriors of old might well have greeted the first European settlers with a performance of the Haka as an act of threatening hostility. If so, then in light of my observation about the ethnic heritage of most All Blacks players and most New Zealanders in general, the whole thing would appear to be somewhat ironic. I can’t quite imagine the USA’s national sports teams performing a Native American ritual at the beginning of fixtures, nor Australian national sports teams performing an Aboriginal ritual at the beginning of their fixtures.

  15. I was going to make the point that no Australian sports team has ever or would ever perform an Aboriginal ritual before a fixture.
    I suppose, with no aboriginal players in most of their international teams, it might seem silly.
    Kurtley Beale is of Aboriginal descent, as are a good few of their pro rugby league players.
    Yes, it is ironic that white New Zealanders, more than likely of Scottish origin, perform the haka, but it is also an example of how the Maori culture is at least in a stronger position in NZ than indigenous cultures in Australia, Canada, USA, etc?

  16. It’s nice to know that the indigenous culture is in a strong position in NZ, but what has that to do with international rugby?

    Why should everyone else have to stand and watch them cavorting before every match?

  17. They shouldn’t have to, but what would the marketing crowd say if they couldn’t milk the haka.

  18. Nope, but the tv rights / morketing crowd probably get a horn over the haka every time it’s on tv.

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