Award-winning journalist calls for New Zealand's haka to be banned

New Zealand v South Africa - Rugby World Cup 2019: Group B

A prominent Irish rugby writer has called for New Zealand’s haka to be banned, claiming it to be 'an unfair advantage [that] needs to stop.'

Award-winning journalist Ewan MacKenna has claimed that the famous war dance, which the All Blacks have used since the 1800s, gives New Zealand a physical and psychological upper hand over their opponents.

He said, as per WalesOnline: "It provides a psychological edge through self-inspiration, via an attempt at opponent intimidation, [and] it also provides a small physical edge as others are forced to stand still and go briefly cold."

MacKenna went on to attack World Rugby for "pandering to the dance", by punishing any nations who refuse to stand and witness the haka performance before kick-off.

"We are back to pandering to the dance.

"That’s unfortunate as New Zealand are justifiably big-headed enough without a massaging of their already massive egos. Yet even World Rugby have it in their rules that to not stand on your own 10-metre line and watch a bunch stick out their tongues and slap their thighs is worthy of a fine and a telling off."

He continued: "We know this because, in 2011, the French federation were fined £10,000 for having the nerve to shuffle forward aggressively as a response.

"We know this because our own [Irish] authorities needed special dispensation to form the figure eight in memory of Anthony Foley when facing it in Chicago.

"We know this because they fawned a diplomatic incident when Brian O’Driscoll had the sheer temerity to hurl some blades of grass into the air [when facing it]."

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War dances like the haka are used by many teams representing Pacific nations, and have been at the centre of controversy before now.

Questions continue to be raised over whether the haka still carries with it a deeper meaning that justifies its continued protection.

The haka originated as a ceremonial dance used by the indigenous Maori people of New Zealand, and current All Blacks claim they still participate in the dance to represent that.

Half-back TJ Perenara, who has led the New Zealand haka since 2016, told ESPN: "[The] haka is about connections and making sure that we are connected with [our] ancestors, the people who went before [us]."

New Zealand v South Africa - Rugby World Cup 2019: Group B

Ewan MacKenna did not hold back in voicing his scepticism about this.

He said: "A dozen years ago when New Zealand came to town, they asked that the Haka take place after the visiting anthem, allowing the glorious and beautiful Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau to ring out last and set their home scene.

"The All Blacks, however, threw a pathetic strop, flung their toys far from the pram, and ended up amusing themselves with it within the confines of their dressing room. Where it should stay."

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