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Hacked Off: 5 Teams That Disrespected the Haka and Regretted It

The All Blacks are rugby’s greatest sporting dynasty. Admired for their power and ferocity, only a fool would seek to rile them before kick-off. So why have so many teams disrespected their famous haka? Here are five examples that backfired spectacularly.

Matt Dawson – England (retired). Dawson was one of those scrum halves who got under opponents’ skin. Fortunately for him he played for an England team that justified his cockiness. As a pundit he hasn’t been so fortunate.

Before the ongoing World Cup, Dawson claimed England had a “great chance” of lifting the trophy on home soil. Apparently only pre-tournament favourites the All Blacks stood in their way. He then introduced a haka-mocking dance called the hakarena - a fusion of Spanish disco and unnecessarily camp thrusting. Hmmmm.

Three weeks later England were knocked out of the world cup after losing to both Wales and Australia. It was the first time the hosts have ever been eliminated in the group stages. Meanwhile the All Blacks are marching serenely towards glory.

Willie Anderson – Ireland. Back in 1989 Willie Anderson’s Ireland team seemed more concerned with winning the pre-match jousting than the actual match. During the haka his Ireland team slowly advanced towards the All Blacks and marched on the spot in a rhythmical fashion. It looked like a bizarre rendition of Riverdance gone wrong.

With the enthusiastic Landsdowne Road crowd egging them on, Ireland got so close to the All Blacks’ faces that they were almost kissing. Anderson responded to New Zealand’s anger by doing a merry little jig. The All Blacks responded by winning the match decisively 23-6.

The Welsh Rugby Union. In 2006 the cheeky Welsh rugby authorities wanted to play their national anthem immediately after the haka. The plan was to upstage the All Blacks with their own display of national pride. There was just one problem: normally the anthems are played before the haka and the Kiwis weren’t happy.

According to Richie McCaw, the All Blacks’ talismanic captain, his team felt insulted and disrespected: “the tradition needs to be honoured properly; if the other teams want to mess around we’ll do it in the shed (dressing room)”. And that’s exactly what they did. Unsurprisingly McCaw’s fired-up team sent the Welsh packing 45-10.

Ryan Jones – Wales. Two years later the spirited (or should than be foolhardy?) Welsh decided to have another go. They played the national anthem in the right spot this time (phew!) but responded to the haka by starring at the All Blacks and then refusing to walk away at the end. Tradition dictates that the opposition turn their backs first.

What ensued is best described as a high-noon standoff that lasted two full minutes. The All Blacks looked at Ryan Jones and his team. Ryan Jones and his team starred back at the All Blacks. The referee tried to intervene but the Welsh were not for turning. When the game eventually started New Zealand’s extra firepower proved decisive. Wales were shot down 29-9.

Thierry Dusautoir – France. The night before the 2011 World Cup final, France’s oddball head coach Bernard Laporte allegedly showed his team the Emilio Estevez movie The Mighty Ducks. The film follows a kids’ ice hockey team that defies the odds to win an irrelevant trophy. In the final sequence the Ducks adopted a ‘flying V’ formation which somehow wins them the match.

The following day, with the World Cup on the line, Dusautoir arranged his troops into the same ‘flying V’ formation during the haka. Not being peewee ice hockey experts the mighty All Blacks weren’t intimidated. They beat the French 8-7. Quelle surprise.

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