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26th Oct 2019

Owen Farrell explains why England lined up in a ‘V’ against the Haka

Patrick McCarry

Owen Farrell

Whenever you manage to beat New Zealand, these moments go down in folklore.

Owen Farrell has handled this one perfectly, from pre-match to post-match, all the while playing on one leg.

Facing the New Zealand ‘Haka’ presents certain challenges for some teams. For others, it is an opportunity to lay down a marker or pay tribute.

When you get it right – see France at Stade des France (2007) and Ireland at Soldier Field (2016) and Lansdowne Road (2018) – it goes into sporting legend.

When you get beaten – see the First Test of the 2005 Lions Tour – it also goes into sporting legend. No-one has copied Brian O’Driscoll’s fern leaf gesture since.

On Saturday, October 19 in Tokyo Stadium, Ireland’s match-day squad took two steps towards the Haka, as one, before going on to lose 46-14.

On Saturday, October 26 in Yokohama International Stadium, England’s match-day squad formed up in a ‘V’ and encroached upon the All Blacks’ ceremonial war dance.

On this occasion, the response was met with a similarly focused and driven performance on the pitch. New Zealand were rattled and error-strewn and England good value for their 19-7 victory.

Following the game, England captain Owen Farrell explained to reporters why he and his teammates had chosen to face the Haka in such a manner. He said:

“We knew we had to be in a radius behind them. we wanted to not just stand there and let them come at us. We wanted to be respectful but we didn’t just want to stand in a flat line.”

To the victor, the spoils.

Teams are starting to find new ways to take on the Haka and show no fear, while also not disrespecting the Kiwi’s rugby traditions.

One wonders if the All Blacks will take on a different approach, and perhaps start marching forward, the next time a team faces them in such a manner.



The latest episode sees Andrew Trimble and Jerry Flannery look back on Ireland’s World Cup exit to New Zealand.

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