Thursday, November 27, 2008
On Saturday we watched as a great test match took place in Cardiff between hosts Wales and the all conquering All Blacks. It was a tale of two halves as Wales competed manfully in the first, but were no match in the second as New Zealand came out tops 29-9 in the end.
Possibly the most talked about event of the match though didnt take place during game time, but in fact pre-kickoff as Wales stood up to the Haka, presenting a challenge of their own.
All week there had been talk of a response from the Welsh, and while the rumours spread, when it came down to it, the response they gave was simple, yet effective in making their statement of intent known.
What it was, was a fantastic moment in sport as the two minute stand off following the Kapa o Pango had neither side wanting to blink as they stared each other down. Referee Jonathan Kaplan tried in vain to coax the teams into action, but neither were interested in being the first to take a backward step.
Following the match, All Black centre Maa Nonu has warned that in the upcoming game this weekend, the English will be best advised to not try the same stunt.
Nonu was rather put out by the standoff at the Millennium Stadium, saying that it will have hurt viewers back home in New Zealand. He also had his theories as to who was behind the bold move.
"What the Welsh did wound us up. They were probably told by Warren Gatland to stand there and wait until we leave," he said.
"But it was really hard. The Haka is a war dance. If you're going to stand there like that then in the past people would have charged, but it's a rugby match and you can't do that.
"People back home will have been hurt by what they decided to do. Standing in the way like they did is asking for a fight.
"My blood pressure was pretty high but then I regained my composure. I was a bit upset about it.
"If I was facing the haka I'd respect it. The haka is the haka, after that it's game time. If England want to do that they can - but they'll probably get the same response."
New Zealand coach Graham Henry said he hoped Wales' response would not set a precedent.
"The Welsh thought that was the best way to respond, I just wanted to know when the game was going to start.
"It took someone with common sense, the All Blacks captain, to get things going," Henry added.
"We don't need that every week. I hope a copycat situation doesn't occur. It's time to move on and be more sensible."
What is your take on it? We think most neutrals would have loved this moment, seeing it as an acceptance of the challenge, rather than being disrespectful. Perhaps the kiwis out there disagree though? We'd love to hear your feedback.