The Haka, a Maori traditional dance probably invented around 1810 by Te Rauparaha, the ‘Napoleon’ of the South Pacific, commemorating his escape from death and escape from his enemies. It was done and used much earlier but the Rauparaha story is the one most commonly spoken of. Now its mostly knows as the dance the All Blacks, New Zealand’s Rugby Union team, preforms before every match. With a few variations of the Haka, the All Blacks usually preform the ‘Ka Mate’ version, although the ‘Kapa o Pango’ one, with the apparent throat slitting gesture at the end of it, has been used more and more in recent years.
One of the most recognizable traditions and trademarks of Rugby Union, the Haka isn’t usually challenged by opposing teams before matches. Usually when it does (or ignored, like Australia used to do when David Campese was playing), it generates a lot of excitement and buzz.
Ireland vs the Haka, 1989
Ireland’s captain, Willie Anderson, led his teammates, joined by hands, towards Buck Shelford and the All Blacks while they were performing the Haka at Landsdowne road. The challange seemed to pump up the crowd and create and incredible atmosphere. Ireland still lost to New Zealand.
Richard Cockerill vs Norm Hewitt, 1997
Now the director of Rugby for the Leicester Tigers, Cockerill made his first start for England in a test match against the All Blacks at Old Trafford in 1997. Being pumped for the occasion, he decided to confront his All Blacks counter part Norm Hewitt during the performing of the Haka. England lost that game 25-8.
France vs the Haka, 2007 World Cup
In the 2007 World Cup played in France the two nations met up in the quarter finals. The French won the toss for the choice of uniforms, getting to wear black while New Zealand wore a silver uniform. During the Haka, the French players wore red/white/blue, walking up about a meter from the All Blacks player. France won the match 20-18.
Wales Standoff, 2008
Another test match that the All Blacks won (29-9), the Welsh players decided to conjure up some reply to the Haka. Instead of doing their own dance, they just made a little standoff with the All Blacks, seeing who flinches first. The atmosphere oozes out of the video as the poor referee seems unable to get anyone to budge. Kiwi’s captain Richie McCaw eventually got his blokes to move first.
Munster Haka Version
In 2008, the All Blacks played Munster, the only Irish side to ever beat New Zealand, 30 years earlier. Munter’s New Zealanders preformed the Haka prior to New Zealand’s, a match which the All Blacks narrowly won, 18-16.