One amazing spectacle you will find on the rugby field when the New Zealand All Blacks play is a dance known as the Haka. Players perform this traditional war dance prior to matches.
Here Is The Haka In Action
Why Do Rugby Teams Do The Haka?
Rugby teams, specifically the All Blacks perform the Haka to honor indigenous New Zealand Maori culture. And as the Haka is a war dance it is used to fire up the All Blacks and intimidate their opposition.
Before sporting events many teams have their own tradition. They will usually give a speech and maybe perform a chant, song or even a dance. This is used to raise the team’s morale, prepare them mentally for the contest and strike a bit of fear into the opposition’s heart.
Well the Haka is a chant, dance and song all combined into one traditional battle cry. The All Blacks perform the Haka just like other teams perform their own chants to motivate themselves and scare the rivals.
As the Haka is a traditional Maori dance the All Blacks also respect and honor the culture of indigenous New Zealanders when they perform it.
What Is The Purpose Of The Haka?
The Haka used in rugby is a war dance. It was traditionally performed by Maori tribes before battle. The purpose of the dance is to scare the enemy was also raising morale.
In rugby, the meaning of the Haka has been altered slightly. Even though the chanting and motions are still traditional instead of inspiring the side performing the Haka to kill the enemy, it is focused on inspiring them to win the rugby match.
When the New Zealand All Blacks are performing the Haka before matches they are not literally wishing death on their opposition. They are trying to motivate themselves and maybe scare the opposition a little. The All Blacks have even gone so far as to call the Haka a challenge rather than a battle cry.
The war Haka used before rugby matches is not the only version of the Haka. Maoris perform other variations to celebrate weddings, births, funerals, acknowledge esteemed guests, and to celebrate different holidays.
One distinct feature of the war Haka that the other versions of the Haka don’t have is the throat slitting gestures, the rolling of the eyes and the contorting of the tongue. These gestures are meant to signify death for the rivals on the battlefield.
Do All Rugby Teams Do The Haka?
Only the New Zealand All Blacks perform the Haka. However, other Pacific Islander nations such as Tonga and Samoa have their own similar war dance.
The Haka is the New Zealand Maoris’ term for their unique war dance. That is why only the All Blacks perform the Haka.
However, fellow Pacific Islander nations such as Samoa and Tonga have their own war dance which is very similar to the Haka.
In Samoa, their dance is called Siva Tau. In Tonga, their dance is called Sipi Tau which is closely related to Samoa’s dance. During the Siva Tau and the Siva Tau, the Samoan and Tongan players lineup just like you would see during the Haka and chant as they slap their arms and thighs.
Why Is The Haka Allowed In Rugby?
The Haka is allowed in rugby because it honors Maori culture. The meaning of the Haka in a rugby context has been changed from a war dance to a challenge making it a more sportsmanlike display.
The New Zealand government has made a big commitment to integrating Maori culture into modern the nation of New Zealand. Allowing the national side to perform the Haka is just one example of keeping Maori traditions alive.
The Haka was first performed by the All Blacks back in 1905 and has been a significant part of the side ever since. The Haka is know a cultural spectalte that is loved by rugby fans all over the world. Sometimes the Haka is more exciting than the match afterwards.
World rugby can’t just go and ban something that so many rugby fans are so passionate about and something that has deep meaning for the Maori people of New Zealand.
There may be some bias though because I am not sure the world rugby community would be quite so accepting if the Haka was a traditional war dance performed by Boers in South Africa. There may be a few complaints about that cultural spectacle.
Is It Disrespectful To Do The Haka?
The war version of the Haka used in rugby is disrespectful. The purpose of this war cry is to wish death upon your opposition and give you the strength to kill them.
New Zealand Rugby has tried to make it more respectful by claiming the Haka is just about challenging the opposing side to a fair game of rugby. However, the true meaning of the Haka can’t be denied and there is nothing rugby-related about throat-slitting gestures.
Rugby players aren’t easily offended so don’t mind having the All Blacks perform a funny looking dance in front of them. They aren’t intimidated and often have claimed that it motivates them and makes them play at a higher level.