England have been fined by World Rugby for their bullish response to New Zealand’s haka in Saturday’s Rugby World Cup semi-final victory.
Although the amount hasn’t been disclosed, Sky News claims it’s £2,500, a sum that will be donated to charity by the sport’s governing body.
England lined up in a V formation to face down the haka, and six players crossed the halfway line as the All Blacks performed their ritual.
The confrontation set the tone for a pulsating encounter and World Rugby later uploaded an official video of the incident on YouTube, entitled “England’s incredible response to intense New Zealand haka”.
More than four million people have viewed the clip and the response has, in the main, been positive.
Former All Blacks fly-half Andrew Mehrtens wrote in The Times that England “took control of the situation”.
Mehrtens added: “They responded in a way that they knew they were going to but the All Blacks didn’t. Even the time it took to take off their tracksuits will have given them a feeling of control and initiative and that was borne out by the five furious minutes that followed.”
Another person who admired England’s initiative was South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus, who faced the haka several times during his own playing career.
“I don’t think it was disrespectful,” said Springboks chief Erasmus, whose side face England in this Saturday’s World Cup final.
“It was certainly interesting, it was certainly exciting and it was certainly something new and it brought some spice to the Test match.”
Nonetheless England have been fined for breaching World Rugby’s “cultural ritual protocol”, introduced after France went nose to nose with the haka in the 2011 Rugby World Cup final.
The fine will lead to more calls among critics of the haka for it to be banned. Last month Irish sports writer Ewan MacKenna made headlines when he wrote an article for Pundit Arena in which he urged World Rugby to stop “pandering to the dance”, which he said had been “completely overdone” for commercial reasons.
There followed the inevitable social media storm, but Mackenna refused to retract the statement, posting a video on Twitter of how the All Blacks used to approach the haka, along with the message: “I’ve enraged the idiocy of New Zealand. ‘Heritage’. ‘Pride’. ‘Warriors’. ‘History’. ‘Culture’. Eh no, it’s marketing and exploitation.”