Thursday, February 2, 2023

The ‘Haka’ Dance in New Zealand Rugby

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The ‘Haka’ is a traditional Maori dance from New Zealand. There are thousands of Haka being performed by various Maori tribes across New Zealand. But the rest of the world knows Haka only because of the New Zealand ‘All Blacks’ Rugby team. It has become a tradition for the All Blacks to perform Haka before every game they play.

Haka’ was first adopted by the New Zealand rugby union team in the year 1905 and since then it has become an integral part of the team. The commonly played ‘Haka’ is “Ka Mate” Haka, but since 2005 the All Blacks have been performing the “Kapa o Pongo” Haka. ‘Haka’ has been called “the greatest ritual in the world of sports”. The Haka, since it was adopted did not remain with the Kiwi Rugby team only, but New Zealand’s men’s basketball team (Tall Blacks), men’s ice hockey team (Ice Blacks) and the Lacrosse team has also performed Haka.

Haka by the Maoris are done normally to intimidate the opposition. The All Blacks do the Haka mostly to enact the tradition only, but some opposition teams feel that even then it is a bit intimidating to them. The reason maybe is that as per the tradition, the Haka is played just before a game starts involving the All Blacks. The entire All Blacks team performs the Haka on the field and the opposing team remains at least ten meters away from them and watch the Haka. Some of the gestures in Haka may look too aggressive for the opponents and hence they may find it unwarranted.

Some of the All black opponents in the past have even welcomed the Haka. The Portuguese Rugby Union Team Captain Vasco Uva said, “We faced it, gave it the respect it deserved and it gave us the motivation and we knew if it gave them strength, it also a point of strength for us as well.

Sometimes few teams even ignore the Haka just to take the air out of the All Blacks team. In 1996 in of the test matches played in Wellington, the Australian team did a warm-up drill when All blacks were performing Haka. Where in the 2007 Rugby World Cup pool game the Italians just did not turn up at all for the Haka.

All in all the Haka is a viewers delight, one must admit!

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