Members of England’s World Cup squad have admitted that they meant to form a semi-circle behind the halfway line in response to the All Blacks’ haka.
In one of the standout moments of the tournament, the English players faced the haka in a V formation instead of the usual horizontal line before their semi-final against New Zealand.
England would go on to win the game but received a fine from World Rugby because their response crossed the halfway line.
In the week after England’s loss in the final to the Springboks, scrumhalf Ben Youngs appeared on The Jonathan Ross Show with teammates Joe Marler, Manu Tuilagi and Tom Curry and explained that their response did not go as planned.
‘We met the night before and we said it’s a challenge and we want to face the challenge and make sure they know we are up for it, so let’s get into a semi-circle,’ Youngs said on the show. ‘A few lads were still confused.’
Marler then chipped in to further clarify what happened.
‘The issue was, Ben drew it up the night before,’ Marler said. ‘He got up and he did it on a flipchart and he marked it all out with Xs and Os. The issue I had with it is I look at that board and thought, “It’s not to scale.” I thought we were meant to be closer than what the picture said.
‘[I crossed the halfway line] which I thought we were all going to do but then I looked back and they weren’t doing it but I thought, “I’ve already committed now.”‘
Photo: Rugby World Cup Twitter