Rugby World Cup 2011

Pumas get into haka spirit

2011-10-06 15:40
Gonzalo Camacho (File)

Auckland -It's been dubbed over-used, even "hijacked by rugby people", but the haka is an integral part of playing New Zealand and should be enjoyed as such, say the All Blacks' quarter-final rivals Argentina.

The Pumas say they will be happy to watch their hosts perform the traditional pre-match ritual, designed to instil fear into rivals, before the action gets under way on Sunday in Auckland.

"It's something special for them and you have to respect and admire it - it's not something you see every day," said veteran prop Martin Scelzo.

"The game itself starts after the haka and on the pitch it's not about the haka."

Wing Gonzalo Camacho believes the haka adds to the occasion.

"It is something spectacular, which motivates you to play. You see it on the television and you hope some day you will be there with it right in front of you and now we get to see this show," said the Leicester star.

Centre Marcelo Bosch is also a fan.

"I have seen it so much on the television that I told myself it would be great to see it in the flesh and now I am going to face the All Blacks I'll enjoy it," he said. "It'll be a spectacular moment."

Scrumhalf Nicolas Vergallo, meanwhile, says he is sure his team-mates will enjoy the experience.

"I've never experienced it so I don't know what I will feel but it must be very beautiful. It's a ritual of theirs that one should respect."

Even so, while the Argentinians are fans and clearly recognise the crossover between the cultural and the sporting, the haka has been the recent subject of controversy.

South Africa coach Peter De Villiers has insisted the face-pulling, foot-stamping dance and chant is becoming too common and thus losing its impact.

"For me, about the World Cup especially, there are too many haka around," de Villiers told the Dominion Post newspaper earlier in the tournament.

"People are becoming so used to it. It is not a novelty any more and they don't respect it."

All Blacks centre Ma'a Nonu retorted by insisting: "It's part of our history, our tradition. We're proud of it.

"I don't really care what he thinks," Nonu said of De Villiers's comments.

But New Zealand Maori leader Peter Love said he agreed with De Villiers and opined that the traditional war dance has been "hijacked by rugby people".

Love, whose uncle is a former New Zealand Maori Rugby Board chairman, said: "The haka in our culture is something which is regarded as special and should not be bastardised by sport. Peter de Villiers is dead right when he says it is losing its respect."

The All Blacks have performed their ritual, entitled 'Ka Mate', before Test matches since 1905.

Opposing teams have tried various methods of responding, with Ireland captain Willie Anderson linking arms with his team-mates at Landsdowne Road in 1989 and going eyeball-to-eyeball with the All Blacks - who won 23-6.

Australia turned their backs to the haka during a 1996 Bledisloe Cup clash in Wellington and were downed 43-6.

Argentina will for their part clearly relish the whole occasion and its famous prologue, but their prime goal will be a first ever success over their hosts, having lost 12 and drawn one of the 13 previous encounters.


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