England FINED for V-shape response to New Zealand’s haka after players revealed that coach Eddie Jones was behind the tactic and admitted they ‘knew it would rile the All Blacks’
- England responded to New Zealand’s haka with a V-shaped formation
- The team fanned out from captain Owen Farrell and some stepped over halfway
- World Rugby have fine England for their actions ahead of the semi-final
- France were fined £2,500 for walking up to the haka ahead of the 2011 final
- England went on to defeat the All Blacks 19-7 to set up final with South Africa
It is understood that England have been reprimanded and fined by World Rugby for their unorthodox response to the Haka five days ago.
Owen Farrell and Co stood in a ‘V’ formation to accept the traditional Kiwi pre-match challenge, but protocols dictate that they must remain in their own half and some players strayed over the halfway line.
As a result, they are believed to have been hit with a nominal four-figure financial penalty.
England responded to New Zealand’s haka on Saturday by standing in a V-formation
World Rugby have fined England for their actions ahead of the semi-final victory
The New Zealand team perform the traditional Maori challenge ahead of the England match
This appears to be a heavy-handed measure in light of what was widely admired as box-office sporting drama. That was even the view of South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus on Wednesday, when he was asked about it.
‘It was certainly interesting, it was certainly exciting,’ he said.
‘It was certainly something new, and it brought some spice to the Test match. I don’t think it was disrespectful, and it was something new for everyone in world rugby. I wouldn’t make a big issue about it, but it’s not for me to decide.’
The players revealed afterwards that the V-shape was the idea of their coach Eddie Jones, with Mako Vunipola admitting afterwards that ‘we knew it would rile them up.’
Captain Farrell was pictured smirking while the dance was performed, with New Zealand scrum-half Aaron Smith saying afterwards that Farrell winked at him.
Owen Farrell was caught on camera smirking at the New Zealand haka ahead of the semi-final
Several England players spilled over into the New Zealand half and were told to step back
France were fined £2,500 for forming a V-shape and advancing on the haka in the 2011 final
The France team linked arms and walked up to within metres of the New Zealand team in 2011
Smith said: ‘We don’t really do it to scare them. We do it for us, to represent our people, to represent New Zealand.
‘The All Blacks have been doing it for 110 years. I was looking at the guy straight opposite me and that was Owen Farrell. He was giving me a few winks.’
Protocol states that players must not cross the halfway line while the haka is being performed but six players – Joe Marler, Billy Vunipola, Mark Wilson, Elliot Daly, Luke Cowan-Dickie and Ben Youngs – appeared to stand in the All Blacks half.
Match officials, including referee Nigel Owens, tried in vain to encourage them back into their own half and this will also be taken into account by World Rugby in their deliberations.
‘[Joe Marler] said he got confused,’ Mako Vunipola said. ‘He thought he was supposed to go all the way around it and go to their 10.
‘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.’
How England confronted the haka: In their own words
Owen Farrell, England captain: ‘We knew we had to be within a radius. We wanted to not just stand there and let them come at us. We wanted to keep a respectful distance, but we didn’t want to just stand in a flat line.’
Mako Vunipola, England prop: ‘Eddie gave us the idea. We wanted to be respectful but we wanted to also make sure that they understood that we would be ready for the fight.
‘Joe Marler said he got confused. He thought he was supposed to go all the way around them (in a circle) and go to their 10 metre line! 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! ‘We put accountability on ourselves to back it up and I thought we did.
‘We knew it would rile them up, it probably felt like we disrespected them. We meant no offence by it, we just wanted to let them know that we were ready for the challenge ahead.
‘And they let us know in the first couple of contacts. It was a ferocious contest, which is what you expect. I’m just very proud and happy for the boys.’
Mako Vunipola is tackled by New Zealand’s Codie Taylor during Saturday’s semi-final
Billy Vunipola, England No 8: ‘It was just about trying to shock them. We talked about it all week. Maro said it, everyone said it, we wanted to shock them with our first 20 minutes because that’s when they begin their process of wearing teams down. We didn’t want to be one of those teams.
‘The Haka is a challenge and we wanted them to know that we accepted and respected the challenge, but also that we didn’t want to just take it. That was the thought behind.’
Tom Curry, England flanker: ‘We just wanted to come at them early doors. That’s the first bit of the game so it’s about trying to set a standard early. They can’t score tries off the Haka. It worked, so we’re happy.
‘I kind of felt it made them more up for it. As soon as we started moving towards them they seemed to accept the challenge. I thought it was good.
‘We went in there knowing we weren’t going to take a backward step. We wanted to show that from the outset. That’s the first moment you get in front of them so it was important to show we weren’t taking a backward step.’
Tom Curry said the team wanted New Zealand to know they wouldn’t retreat