Haka aimed at All Blacks, not rivals


By Sean Fitzpatrick


(http://www.nzherald.co.nz - 27 November 2005)



I understand that there has been some adverse reaction at home about the media comment on the All Blacks in Britain. Honestly, I've noticed very little of it and I wonder if we don't get a bit too sensitive at times. However, one of the issues that has got a lot of attention over here has been the haka.

I think many here in the Northern Hemisphere don't understand the haka and, when the All Blacks said they would take a look at the throat-slitting gesture in the new haka, the media jumped all over it.

What people up here don't understand - and I would say it needs a current All Black or All Blacks to say so - is that we do not do the haka to intimidate the opposition.

It's not about them. It's about us. It's the All Black tradition - not just a cultural tradition but the tradition of being All Blacks.

We use it to motivate ourselves.

I can remember when I first did the haka, in France in 1986. I was highly excited because, in those days, we didn't do the haka at home and it was a real rite of passage thing.

I can remember thinking that my family and my mates were watching me doing it and All Blacks are always very careful to make sure they do it well. It is, technically, a challenge but it has become more of a tradition.

With the haka, we as All Blacks also remember all those who have gone before.

We don't care what the opposition do. It doesn't matter whether they eyeball us or advance on us or do what Campo did, kicking a ball around behind the goal-line. All Black players would never think that was disrespect, because we are not doing it for them.

When the Lions were in New Zealand and people tried to make something out of Brian O'Driscoll mistakenly disrespecting the haka by picking up some grass and throwing it away... bunkum.

None of the All Blacks could have cared less about that - and the proof is that you never heard anything about it in New Zealand; it wasn't until the tackle incident and the British media got hold of it. As I often say here: "You prepare for the game by sitting on the M25; we do the haka."

Maybe we need to educate them up here on the haka, just as we have educated them on the field.

I think Graham Henry and his panel have done an outstanding job in terms of creating depth and a team dynamic. He's broken this team down into key units, key areas and polished them up. Like the scrum.

In the history-making side in South Africa in 1996, we knew we had to dominate the South Africans at the scrum. They had dealt to us before the tour so we knew we had to get it right up front - and we did.

That has happened all over again with this team and it was terrific to watch. Outstanding stuff.


Return to the Rugby Readers Review