The All Blacks and the haka go hand in hand. But how much longer should it stay that way?

Kiwi rugby fans are no strangers to hearing calls from the UK and Australia to red card the All Blacks' traditional pre-game challenge.

And those sentiments from offshore are again echoed in respected British journalist Peter Bills' new book The Jersey.

But for the first time those who have actually performed the haka proudly also reveal their frustrations about the growing use and prominence of the haka.


Before his death last year, Sir Colin Meads told Bills he believed we were becoming "haka-ed out", while former test prop Kees Meeuws said its overuse had led to it losing its mana.

Meeuws – who played 42 tests for the Abs – has even suggested we revert to previous traditions where the All Blacks only performed the haka before clashes overseas (as they did prior to the 1987 Rugby World Cup on Kiwi soil).

And the All Blacks' mental skills coach Gilbert Enoka goes so far as to say some who have worn the black jersey in recent times hated the performance.

It's not only the mass use of the haka – both before games and in the varied PR campaigns by the All Blacks, NZ Rugby and their sponsors – which have seen Bills and some of those quoted in his book questioning the challenge's future.

Is it fair in the current rugby environment for the All Blacks to keep their opposition waiting, where the difference between winning and losing can come down to smallest of margins and where losses can lead to the end of coaching and test playing careers?

Former Irish star Tony Ward quite rightly points out the haka is a psychological weapon, but it also gives the ABs an advantage as they are essentially warming up by doing it.

The opposition in contrast have to wait – often in bitterly cold conditions ahead of night tests in NZ – while the All Blacks go through the motions.

The points made in Bills' book may be hard for some Kiwi rugby nuts to swallow. To even consider such views feels like an act of betrayal towards something which over the past 31 years has been performed before every All Black test.


But as the All Blacks prepare to kick off their Rugby Championship campaign next weekend, they should be debated.

Yes, the haka makes us proud. But should the All Blacks still have the right to do it before every match? It is becoming increasingly hard to justify.