Nicholas Jones

Nicholas Jones is the New Zealand Herald’s education reporter.

'Ban it' - cry of the Aussie loser

The throat slitting motion of the Kapa o Pango haka is usually reserved for the tests against Australia. Photo / Paul Estcourt
The throat slitting motion of the Kapa o Pango haka is usually reserved for the tests against Australia. Photo / Paul Estcourt

It has become the echo which follows each crashing Wallabies defeat - the haka should be banned because it gives the All Blacks an advantage over rivals.

The latest mouthpiece for the claim is Australian Fox Sports commentator Greg Martin, who claimed the haka gave the All Blacks an "unfair physical advantage".

"The whole game of rugby is about male dominance over another man, and they're yelling and screaming and threatening and you've to sit there and go: 'Umm, this'll be finished soon'," Martin said on The Rugby Club programme.

"What's so good about it? If you want to go see entertainment go to the theatre ... that's what it is; it's singing and dancing."

The Wallabies were soundly beaten by a dominant All Blacks side in last Saturday's Bledisloe Cup test in Auckland, losing 30-14.

Former All Black and Sky sports commentator Stu Wilson said Martin's claim had to be taken as what it was - a wind-up.

Wilson said Martin had shown his true feelings about New Zealand when he organised a charity rugby match which raised more than $600,000 for Christchurch.

" He's probably a bit annoyed that they got dicked. I mean they got towelled. So they'll fire a couple across the bows of us, which is fine.

"They're just sourpusses, aren't they? We probably wouldn't even be having this discussion if the Wallabies had won."

But former All Black and New Zealand Maori captain Billy Bush agreed with Martin that the haka gave the All Blacks an advantage over their opposition.

"Particularly with the Maoris. It wasn't so much the team talk from the coach, it was the prayer and then we did the haka and you could feel it really pull together the team spirit.

"It really pumps you up ... psychologically it gives you a huge advantage. It's a great feeling if you understand it."

In South Africa in 1976 the Afrikaner administration did not want it performed.

Bush said the immense popularity of the haka today among players and fans meant it was here to stay.

"If you're good enough mate, you'll win. They're just clutching at straws I think. Remember, before the game they were writing it up like they were going to thrash us."

At your peril

* The Wallabies chose to turn their backs on the haka and warm up in their own half before a 1996 Bledisloe Cup clash in Wellington. All Blacks won 43-6.

* In an attempt to ruffle the All Blacks on the eve of a 2006 Bledisloe Cup test, Wallabies coach John Connolly pondered whether the final act of Kapa O Pango might "incite murder". All Blacks won 13-9.

* The Welsh Rugby Union insisted the haka be performed before the Welsh anthem in 2006. The All Blacks refused to back down and performed the haka in their dressing room. All Blacks won 45-10.

* On eve of a 2008 match against England, Guardian reporter Frank Keating said New Zealand's "charmless eye-rolling, tongue squirming dance" has long passed its sell-by date and should be scrapped. All Blacks won 32-6.

* British scribe Stephen Jones welcomed the All Blacks to England last year by claiming the haka was an "instrument of the worst kind of sporting arrogance" and calling for it to be banned. All Blacks won 26-16.


- NZ Herald

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