According to the International Rugby Board, as quoted in this Stuff.co.nz story, the Haka (the traditional Maori war dance the All Blacks do before each match) in addition to other war dances by the various Pacific Island teams attending the 2011 Rugby World Cup will be respected. During the recently ended 2010 Women’s Rugby World Cup, Australia was fined over $2000 because they got too close to the Black Ferns as they performed the Haka in their pre-match ceremony.
From the story:
The IRB confirmed that the New Zealand haka and the various challenges performed by the Pacific Island nations would be embraced as a key aspect of next year’s World Cup.
While there have been calls from some quarters for the haka to be banned, the IRB believes fans regard the haka as a key feature of any match involving the All Blacks.
As the video accompanying the story points out, there was one nation that was classless enough to ignore the New Zealanders and just huddle up as if nothing was going on. And I’m sure none of us would be surprised to find out that it was, or course, the French.
And who in the hell would want to ban the Haka? (Probably some Frenchman… it’d figure. 😉 ) It’s one of the most iconic parts of any rugby match involving the All Blacks. Who can’t watch the 1973 All Blacks vs. Barbarians match and feel the chill run up their spine at the very beginning when New Zealand finishes the Haka? (and that wasn’t an intense Haka at all, compared to today’s performances!)
Probably as a result of the French classlessness, the IRB has “encouraged” that teams stand about ten meters back from the halfway line and face the team’s challenge. With those teams disregarding this “encouragement” possibly incurring fines.