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October 24, 2011

The Haka

The Haka is a  a ceremonial Maori dance that involves chanting, posturing and fierce facial expressions. This war dance has become part of the rugby tradition of New Zealand. 

The All Blacks perform a short version of the Maori war dance before important matches. Below is the most watched one - nine million views worldwide. The English subtitles tell you what they are doing.

Yesterday, New Zealand  won 8-7 to wrest the World Rugby Cup for 2011. Their previous world title was 24 years ago. The country, which was in the throes of rugby fever for the last few months, went wild with celebrations. When the All Blacks performed the Haka before the match, the response of the French team too was worth watching. Unfortunately, the clip which I saw on Youtube is now blocked due to copyright issues.

Instead, let us watch another famous  one - kapa o pango or cut-throat haka. Look out for the throat-slashing move towards the end.

Response of the Opponents
How does the opposite team react to the thirty seconds of aggro by the All Blacks? Excepting the the Pacific Islanders who respond with their own war dances, most opponents simply wait in watchful and restive silence. But not always. At one match in England, the entire stadium roared and sang their guts out to drown the Haka. In another instance, the captain of  the Irish team  led his men menacingly towards the Haka performers.
More tidbits and  video links  will be uploaded shortly...

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