‘I thought it was brilliant, quite imaginative too’: New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen PRAISES England for their ‘fantastic’ response to the haka during Rugby World Cup semi… despite Eddie Jones’ men being fined
Steve Hansen said he had no problems with England’s response to the haka – which has seen them fined by World Rugby.
England were reprimanded as they crossed the half-way line while the Maori war dance was performed by New Zealand in Yokohama last Saturday.
World Rugby themselves have celebrated the move via their Twitter, YouTube and Instagram channels where England’s response is called ‘incredible’ and has given them millions of views.
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
Eddie Jones came up with the plot to rile up the All Blacks, and the Kiwis themselves were non-plussed by the manoeuvre.
‘You’re taking me in dangerous territory here,’ said coach Hansen when asked about it.
‘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 the halfway (line). And everyone knows you can’t go over the halfway.
‘I think Joe Marler didn’t go back when he got told two or three times.
‘I thought the response was brilliant. 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 it was brilliant, quite imaginative too.’
And Warren Gatland also backed England’s ‘flying-V’ formation against the haka in the World Cup semi-final against the All Blacks, saying it was the perfect response.
While New Zealander Gatland has no plans for his Wales side to do something similar in the third-fourth playoff match this Friday, was impressed with England’s idea.
‘We might do a ‘W’ for Wales,’ he joked about an idea for his own team’s response.
‘It hasn’t really crossed my mind. I thought you weren’t allowed to cross the 10 metre line and both teams had to line up there. I didn’t realise the halfway was the mark.
‘The All Blacks do the haka on the 10 metre line and I thought the opposition had to line up there. I think the way teams want to respond to the haka is completely up to them.
‘For England to do something like that is completely respectful as far as I’m concerned. They didn’t turn their backs or anything like that.
‘They stood there and received the haka. Ireland in Chicago a few years ago did a No 8 in respect for Anthony Foley and other teams have done it in their own way.
‘I was just thankful England didn’t do some Morris dancing. I thought that was a perfect response. I can remember looking back a number of years ago and I was involved with the All Blacks against Ireland and Willie Anderson linked arms with everyone else and they marched forwards.
‘After the match they were severely criticised by the press for how disrespectful that was. As All Blacks, no one mentioned a thing afterwards. You can respond in your own way and they were accepting the challenge.
‘That’s what England did. The haka is about standing up and accepting the challenge because the haka is challenging lots of things about you – how tough you are, how physical you are…it’s important you don’t take a backward step and you respond respectfully.
‘I thought England did that.’