The All Blacks' haka performance before their famous 40-29 loss to Ireland in Chicago has been labelled disrespectful by New Zealand rugby great Craig Dowd.
The world rugby power's decision to perform the Kapo o Pango in front of the sold out crowd of 62,300 at Soldier Field left Dowd cringing.
The former All Blacks' prop with 60 Test caps says it was a decision New Zealand got badly wrong in the face of Ireland's outpouring of emotion for former Irish international and Munster coach Anthony Foley, who died in October at the age of 42.
In a column for ESPN, Dowd wrote the All Blacks' decision to perform their most aggressive haka was disrespectful towards Ireland's players and the grief many carried into the game.
The Irish team had pre-organised an emotional tribute to Foley as a battle-cry response to the All Blacks' haka challenge - lining up in a figure eight formation to face the haka as a tribute to Foley, who played in the No. 8 position.
Dowd wrote New Zealand should have been ready for Ireland's emotional tribute. "I watched the haka and cringed," Dowd wrote.
"Someone didn't do their homework in the All Blacks camp. Knowing a little bit about the Irish mentality and having had a 64-Test cap veteran and ex-Munster coach Anthony Foley die recently, with all the players wearing black armbands and having a moment's silence for him before the game, and knowing what that meant to the Irish team and the public, I thought pulling out the Kapo O Pango haka was disrespectful.
"I've been to funerals and you do the Ka Mate haka to honour a warrior and it is different to doing the battle cry, or war cry, of Kapo O Pango which is a more aggressive challenge.
"I thought, 'you guys haven't done your research here, you haven't actually thought through the process'.
"It's not a case of not backing themselves, they are the All Blacks and they should back themselves. But it is being respectful and I thought the haka choice was disrespectful."
He said the All Blacks' haka selection may have played into Ireland's hands.
"From that moment after the haka, the Irish normally spill over the top, the adrenaline gets to them and they do something stupid," he said.
"It's almost like they had a composure about them this time and normally you just don't see that in an Irish team. As a result, I wonder if part of their strategy was to slow the game down."
Ireland players admitted they were fuelled by the emotion of the occasion.
Captain Rory best confirmed after the game his team's tribute to Foley became a key part of their preparations for the contest.
"It was just an emotionally charged day for us," Best said.
"Ultimately, we did a lot of our work earlier in the week so we could draw on a bit of that emotion. You've got to take a moment every time you make history.
"It's a massive mark of the respect to the All Blacks that beating them means so much to us because they are such a quality side and they've shown it.
"It has been a long time coming and history (has been) made. We're absolutely ecstatic.
"It just felt like the right thing to do and it was our way, as an Irish national team, just to show a mark of respect to Axel (Foley) and his family."
- with AFP