All Blacks v France: Les Bleus challenge haka, but lose anyway

By Amelia Wade

The French stand shoulder to shoulder as the All Blacks perform the haka. Photo / Dean Purcell
The French stand shoulder to shoulder as the All Blacks perform the haka. Photo / Dean Purcell

France's spirited challenge to the haka backfired on them last night as the All Blacks took heart to win the Rugby World Cup for the first time in 24 years.

As the haka began, the French players stood in a "V" formation and joined hands. Then they began to move forward slowly - over halfway - until they were standing in a wavey line about 10 metres from the All Blacks.

The International Rugby Board has rules governing how teams respond to the haka.

Last night was not the first time the All Blacks' opposition did not passively watch the pre-match tradition. This came about after a fiery response to the haka by the Ireland rugby team at Lansdowne Road in Dublin in 1989.

Captain and lock Willie Anderson led his team in a slow march forward until they were standing directly in front of the All Blacks.

The tactic had no effect on the match, with the All Blacks running out 23-6 winners.

In Wales in November 2008 a tense standoff at the Millennium Stadium was delayed the start of the match for about a minute as both teams eyeballed each other at the end of the All Blacks' stirring rendition of Kapa o Pango.

The referee had to implore both captains to get on with the game as each team refused to budge.

The incident fired up the All Blacks, who won 29-9.

Prior to their test against Wales in 2005, the Welsh Union requested the All Blacks perform the haka after the New Zealand anthem and before the Wales anthem which was the sequence that took place before the 1905 test.

After six weeks of negotiations, an agreement was not reached between the teams and the All Blacks performed the haka before the match in their dressing room - much to the disappointment of the crowd. The incensed All Blacks won 41-3.

When the All Blacks were playing England in 1997, the English team stood toe to toe with the All Blacks at Old Trafford and rival hookers Norm Hewitt and Richard Cockerill ended up pushing one another.

Cockerill got up close and personal with Hewitt, who led the All Blacks in the haka.

"It was like there were only two people on that field," said Hewitt at the time. "At one point I thought to myself 'if I had a patu I would have cut his head off' and I was going into that place." The All Blacks won 25-8.

- NZ Herald

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