England have now received their punishment for their response to New Zealand’s haka, and teammates are pinning all the blame on forward Joe Marler.
World Rugby fined the now World Cup finalists £2,000 for forming a V-shape in the face of the infamous war dance, which ended up spilling into the Kiwi half.
As many as six England players broke rugby protocol by encroaching into their opponent’s half during the haka performance, including experienced number 8 Billy Vunipola.
But, because Joe Marler was stood furthest into All Black territory, his England teammates are now joking that the Harlequins prop should be the one to pay up.
Mako Vunipola admitted, as per The Sun: “[Joe Marler] said he got confused. He thought he was supposed to go all the way around it and go to their 10 [metre line].
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“But because of that, he’s the one who has to pay the fine! He dishes it out a lot so the boys would be more than happy if he has to pay it.”
Marler was singled out for criticism on the pitch by referee Nigel Owens, who, supposedly, instructed him multiple times to retreat into his own half.
This was noted by New Zealand boss Steve Hansen, who, surprisingly, was otherwise full of praise for England’s response to his side’s challenge.
He said: “I think England’s response was fantastic. They didn’t get fined for responding with what they did, they got fined because they went over halfway.
“Everyone knows you can’t go over halfway. I think Joe Marler didn’t go back when he got told two or three times.
“If you understand the haka, it requires a response. It’s a challenge to you personally and it requires you to have a response. I thought [England’s response] was brilliant, quite imaginative too.”
Thankfully for England fans, it’s unlikely that Marler will lose any sleep over this ahead of England’s World Cup final against South Africa.
He will no doubt be aware that if England emerge triumphant, all players will collect a cool £225,000 each – a figure which makes the World Rugby fine look like spare change.
Hopefully this situation will only add the kind of motivation Marler will need to put in a massive shift in Saturday’s final, both for his teammates and the nation.