Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus says England’s unique challenge of the All Blacks haka before the World Cup semi-final is not a big issue.
England’s players formed a flying V-formation around the haka before going on to claim a 19-7 win in the semi-final in Yokohama last Saturday. Officials told them to retreat when they moved too close to New Zealand, in what is being regarded as a violation of ‘cultural ritual protocol’.
It was later revealed that coach Eddie Jones was behind the plan to counter the All Blacks’ traditional Maori challenge in order to show they were ‘ready for anything’.
England are now facing sanctioning from World Rugby as it is understood that protocol states opponents should not cross the halfway line when facing the haka.
‘I wouldn’t make a big issue out of it but it’s not up to me to decide,’ Erasmus said. ‘I don’t think it was disrespectful. It was certainly interesting, it was certainly exciting and it was certainly something new and it brought some spice to the Test match.’
Erasmus added that the Springboks have no issues facing the haka and, in fact, did not find it intimidating.
‘We face the haka regularly, we face it twice a year, every year. We definitely don’t feel it gives them an advantage or it definitely doesn’t intimidate us. It’s more of an honour for us to face it. Maybe it lifts them a little bit and there might be some science behind it that it gives them a little bit more advantage but I’m not knowledgeable enough to tell you if it does.’
— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) October 29, 2019
Photo: Getty Images