You are here

The rugby hit video of 2017 turned out not to be a try like Canada's Magali Harvey's field-length beauty in the Women's RWC of 2014 or the 2003 RWC Cup winning dropkick off the foot of England's Jonny Wilkinson. No, the online film that generated the most interest was the haka performed by New Zealand Women before the World Cup final in Ireland. (

After the word "scrum," the haka is probably the second most recognized word associated with rugby. Scrum appears frequently in world newspapers to describe a small mass of congregating people, entering into the nomenclature and surpassing its rugby link.

The haka dance, unique in sports, is visually so singular that it has commanded global awareness and notoriety. And, of course, it is rightly associated with the All Blacks, who popularized the native war chant as early as 1888 when a Maori side played the Surrey RFC in England.

Called the "KaMate" in New Zealand, the pre-game ritual commands certain unwritten rules for teams that must face off against the Kiwis without making any vocal response. In past decades, the opposition has lined up with arms on shoulders, resembling a poorly organized Rockette line, and attempting badly to stare down the All Blacks.

Over time, there have been several attempts to nullify the New Zealander's pre-contest haka advantage. English fans in 2008 sang "Sweet Low, Sweet Chariot," at Twickenham. The Scots chanted a spirited version of "Loch Lomond" at Murrayfield. In the 2007 RWC, the French faced off in a combative V, wearing jerseys that resembled the tri-color French flag. 

The two most memorable haka responses number 1989's Ireland match where the Irishman Willie Anderson led his team up the field to stand nose-to-nose with the All Blacks. In a game against Munster, the four native New Zealanders on the Irish side broke out of the line to perform a haka against their countrymen.

Other Pacific Island nations also present their war dance versions: Samoa, the Sivatau, Tonga, the Sipi Tua, and Fiji perform the Cibi.

The Black Ferns regained the Women's RWC title against England, who tried to act stoically in the face of the haka.