England 'can do what they like' in response to Haka

09 November 2018 8:37 PM

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London - New Zealand captain Kieran Read has insisted England "can do what they like" in response to the Haka at Twickenham on Saturday.

The Haka, a Maori challenge, has long formed part of the pre kick-off routine of New Zealand, the reigning world champions.

Back in 1989, Ireland captain Willie Anderson had his players link arms and advance towards the Haka - a stirring sight but one that didn't stop New Zealand winning 23-6 in Dublin.

Two years later, in a World Cup semi-final, Australia great David Campese ignored the Haka completely, preferring to kick a ball behind his own posts.

British and Irish Lions captain Brian O'Driscoll tried throwing a blade of grass in the air, symbolising the picking up of the traditional white feather, ahead of the first Test in 2005.

The All Blacks viewed that as a lack of respect and within a minute O'Driscoll's tour was over following a controversial 'spear' tackle by New Zealand captain Tana Umaga.

France were even fined for their response before an agonising 8-7 loss to New Zealand in the 2011 World Cup final in Auckland.

Les Bleus were supposed to remain behind the 10-metre line in their own half, but they advanced towards the All Blacks in a 'v-formation' led by captain Thierry Dusautoir.

France were subsequently fined £2, 00 for a "breach of the tournament cultural ritual protocol".

"At one stage we were so close to them that they wanted to kiss the New Zealanders, but I told them to take it easy," said Dusautoir afterwards.

Saturday's match will be the first time England have played New Zealand for four years.

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England are unlikely to emulate Richard Cockerill, who in 1997 confronted All Black forward Norm Hewitt during a Haka at Old Trafford - a match that England lost 25-8.

But a relaxed Read, speaking at New Zealand's London hotel on Friday, said: "We do the Haka as a challenge but it is more about us connecting as a team. The opposition can do what they like.

"I certainly get a kick out of it and I'm sure the crowd does as well. Whether they sing or what, it adds to the atmosphere.

England were far from convincing in a 12-11 win over South Africa at Twickenham last weekend.

But Read, who played in the All Blacks 24-21 victory over England at 'headquarters' in 2014, was braced for a tough encounter in front of a capacity crowd of more than 80 000.

"They (England) play a game, it can be fairly conservative, but it wins football (rugby) games and they've got some guys out there who are pretty devastating with ball in hand."

He added: "It's a special day, playing England at Twickenham. It's one of those occasions you remember across your career."

Source: sport24.co.za

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