Responding to the Haka


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.

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16 Responses to Responding to the Haka

  1. Ken Parish says:

    I thought for a moment you were going to suggest that they guillotine effigies of Richie McCaw and Ma’a Nonu. Come to think of it …

  2. Yobbo says:

    The Campese response is the correct one. The Haka is not an official part of the pre-match, the opposition team should do whatever they would normally do against any other side that wasn’t doing the Haka.

  3. Rex says:

    Perhaps Ken, they can read aloud excerpts from Jean Paul Sartre and simply bore them to death.

  4. Patrick says:

    What they should do is get their Dieux de Stade act on (google it, you’ll see how this would perturb the AB’s sensibilities no end).

    Or give it the respect it deserves and make sheep noises.

  5. Pedro says:

    The stupidest idea is that the ABs will play better if you disrespect the haka.

  6. FDB says:

    Chuck a browneye.

  7. wilful says:

    I tell you what, when Umaga and Mealamu targeted BOD for ‘disrespect’ in 2005, that was a scandal, they should have been completely ashamed of themselves.

  8. Ross says:

    NZ did not play all that well but we were pathetic.What is a backline for? All we did was maul and kick the ball back to the Kiwis.There was little variation of play and no inspirational moves.We will be very lucky to beat Wales.

  9. Pedro says:

    NZ forwards were great.

  10. John J says:

    Perhaps half the French team could go Vichy and collaborate with the ABs. Then after half time, with the score at 133-0, the combined British, US, Russian, Australian, South African, & Canadian teams could take to the field and cream the arrogant Kiwis. Just a thought.

  11. Sally says:

    I don’t watch sport and the first and last time I saw the Haka was at the Sydney Olympic Games Opening Ceremony where like millions or others I promptly fell madly in love with it and NZ Maoris.

    It’s obvious what the French or any opposing national team without an equivalent cultural response should do to gain at least psychological parity with the All Blacks before a contest.

    They should bow to them. Or shake hands with every last one of them. Offer respect and acknowledgement in some unmistakable way.

    Simple. Unnerving. Profound. Effective.

  12. paul walter says:

    In the end there is only one answer when you play a unit as comitted as that one. You have to defeat them, “against the breeze”, so to speak.
    Wins will be rare, but against this sort of class, when you beat the best a win is so unbeleivably more potent and fulfilling. Its the extra degree of difficulty and is like winning a premiership in a local league, which is also singular and for many clubs takes years if not decades, if ever.

  13. Patrick says:

    I remember when we won in 98 or 99 over there for the first time in ages. I knew we were going to win during through haka when Phil Kearns was just standing there with a wry slightly-smug quite-a-bit-contemptuous and almost indulgent smile, while think Horan and Tune were watching, chatting softly, like early punters at tihe races watching the trackwork, Ealesy had the diffidence of someone watching someone else’s kids show off…THAT was the attitude we needed and they deserved.

    It was also the players we needed which might have helped :)

  14. Pedro says:

    That’s a great combo, bored indifference to the haka and a champion team of champions. Which part did we get wrong this time?

  15. Patrick says:

    Haha Pedro, which part indeed? The coach?

    To clarify, it wasn’t quite bored, it was interested, just not all that much and completely unimpressed. You could almost feel Kearnsy in particular thinking ‘you won’t be dancing for long…’

  16. TC says:

    I thought what the French did in the last RWC was quite good. Just walk right up as a team and stand in their faces…right in their personal space. Made me uncomfortable just watching it. I’m sure the French will have a plan this time given all the press have written them off…sorta’ gives them carte blanche to do whatever they wish. Should be fun to watch!

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