It was a sign of things to come perhaps. As the All Blacks performed their pre-match war dance with its stamping, grunting, eye-bulging and tongue lolling, the camera cut away to a shot of Australia’s Radike Samo. His face shiny with perspiration, was framed by a ‘do that looked at that moment like a fright wig or the result of an unusually positioned Van De Graaff generator. The effect, to say the least, was comical. At the Pub I was in, the crowd burst into laughter. It was a bad omen for the Wallabies, and no-one in the Pub even attempted a chorus of Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi to counteract the bad mojo. It was a lost cause.
It’s been a problem for years. What to do about the Haka. Countering strategies have been tried. The turning of the back, or the Campese gambit, but this is often condemned as unsportsmanlike, and that’s not an accusation that at least we Aussies are willing to wear.
It is the French who are next going to face this pre-game freak-out fodder, and just standing there and taking it will not be enough. The French must produce their own daunting display in response. A performance to shock and intimidate. And surely, to have gravitas, it should be based on tradition – as the Haka itself is based on the traditional Maori boogaloo. It should therefore be a performance that draws its inspiration upon France’s own glorious history.
Next Sunday, the Frogs must face the all All-Black Haka stony faced. But once it is finished, and the roar of the crowd has died down, they must form a line facing the Kiwis, arms across each others backs, and smiling seductively launch into the world famous Moulin Rouge Can Can Dance. The sight of those burly Fishmongers from Marseilles kicking their heels high in the air and displaying their mighty Gallic undercarriages will be the sporting equivalent of Shock and Awe. It could be a devastating psychological blow – carrying with it the implicit superiority of French cultural achievement – and putting the Kiwis firmly in their place as lacking the sophistication to cut it on the world stage.
The French need to adopt radical tactics if they’re to best the Kiwis this Sunday and restore the honour of the Non-New Zealand Rugby playing nations. If they do nothing we all know it’ll be a walkover, But If they do act as I suspect they will, and do win, then the pressure will be on the other sides to introduce their own pre-match performance. And for Australia’s sake let’s hope we can come up with something more intimidating than the Pride of Erin.