The All Black Haka, love it or hate it, it’s been around for a long time and isn’t going anywhere. But was it always so confrontational? Looking back, it would appear not, and this is where some find issue with it.
When it comes to watching New Zealand play, the Haka is one of the things I look forward to most. It’s a brilliant piece of showmanship that should be embraced. About thirty years back, things were slightly different though, and this is what annoys some rugby fans.
The usual response to criticism is that they’re still allowed to do it because they’ve always been allowed to do it. That’s a fair comment, but there is no doubt though that in recent times it’s changed drastically, and become a far more intense, physically intimidating challenge.
Buck Shelford was one of the first to pick it up a notch with the confrontational approach, and then in 2005 we saw the introduction of the Kapa O Pango , where Tana Umaga slapped the back of Rico Gear, and they all performed a throat slitting gesture. There was a small outcry, so the throat slitting stopped, but this year it’s returned, strangely enough.
Former Wallaby and current commentator Greg Martin recently expressed his desire for the Haka to be scrapped. He was clearly stirring and as with a lot of the things he says, his comments should be taken with a pinch of salt. They caused somewhat of a stir though, and re-ignited the age old debate about why they should be allowed to do it at all.
“They get an unfair physical advantage. The whole game of rugby is about male dominance over another man, and they’re there yelling and screaming and threatening and you’ve got to sit there and go: ‘Umm, this’ll be finished soon’,” said Martin.
“What’s so good about it? “If you want to go see entertainment go to the theatre. That’s what it is; it’s singing and dancing,” he added.
So whether you subscribe to Marto’s views, or choose to enjoy it for what it is, here’s a slightly comical clip that shows how dramatically it’s changed over the years.
Credit: The Rugby Club on Fox Sports