IRB denies haka overreaction
Rupert Guinness - RugbyHeaven
Sydney - The International Rugby Board has defended its hardline stance against teams responding to the All Blacks' haka.
VIDEO: All Blacks do the Haka
The Australian Rugby Union was recently fined £1000 ($1677) after the women's Wallaroos team advanced on the New Zealand Black Ferns' haka before their World Cup clash last month.
The Wallaroos breached the IRB law that requires teams opposing a haka to stand 10 metres in their half and remain still. The fine created debate in Australia and many felt the IRB overreacted.
But IRB chief executive Mike Miller told the Herald it is disrespectful to respond to the haka - from the All Blacks or any of the Pacific Island teams - by stepping forward or openly reacting.
''It's a traditional part of the game,'' Miller said. ''If people want to develop something - not a response, not a war dance, but a traditional sporting or cultural way of engendering that team spirit for a match - great. They should be able to and we should create the space to do it.
''It would be a shame if people said: 'Let's do away with it' or felt the need to do some response that took away from the dignity and power of it.''
Miller said teams that breached the IRB regulation cannot claim emotions got the better of them.
''There is the protocol that says let them have the space. We discuss it with everyone before. We say: 'We are serious about this and that there is a fine' if they do it,'' he said. ''So they can't say they didn't know and most people respect that. These cultural parts of the game are important. We should respect them.''
Meanwhile, all obstacles stopping Argentina from joining South Africa, New Zealand and Australia in a Four Nations tournament for four years have been overcome, after a meeting in Sydney last week between the IRB, SANZAR and the Argentinian union.
Miller said the task was to ''work when they will come in, what the governing structure is going to be, how are they going to split money and what will happen after the four years. Then they have to sign a contract. All the obstacles in the way have been cleared out.''
The IRB, Miller said, would contribute £1 million a year to Argentina to create academies and high-performance structures - ''everything you see here in Australia so they can bring along the players, so it's not just one golden generation, and then the talent dries up''.
The IRB has also moved to ensure Argentina's best players in Europe are released from their clubs to play in the allotted Four Nations window and pledged $US10m ($10.8m) over four years to SANZAR to cover the possible short-term financial losses from Argentina's arrival.
''''There has been a huge change in [mentality in] Argentina, the last of the top-10 unions to make the transition from the amateur game to the professional,'' Miller said.