Sunday, 23 October 2011

On the 'Haka'

The World Cup Final today was a great game of rugby which the French, having been lucky to be there, were unlucky to lose.

The 'haka' is starting to annoy me though, and not just because to my jaundiced eye its various components, when taken together, look like someone trying to perform cunnilingus on a large and somewhat resistant sheep.

More to the point, I thought the pre-match archive TV footage of awkward, embarrassed, uncoordinated (and all white) New Zealanders going through the motions in the amateur days (Barbarians vs. All Blacks, 1973) was in fact a more honest rendition, if less suited to telly, than today's pumped-up, fuck-you testosterone overdose posing as cultural meaningfulness - and I say that with no intention of offending Maoris.

New Zealanders out there: do you think that if another team were, just for once, to show their bottoms in response to the haka, you might take it in good spirit rather than blathering on about 'disrespect'? Because I fail to see what respect the All Blacks show their opponents when they do it.

In fact, since the IRB show no signs of outlawing this most unsportsmanlike activity, I suspect that other nations will just have to develop their own pre-kick-off rituals:

England: Morris dancing. That should put the fear of God into them. Their opponents, I mean.
Ireland: a collective jig and reel incorporating stylised weeping motifs, unless the opponents are England, in which case they just shoot them.
Scotland: as Ireland, but keeping their arms in the air while dancing, bringing them down again to shoot the English.
Wales: as Ireland and Scotland, but without the dancing, and if their opponents are England they offer them their guns.
France: a kind of collective strut, a sort of sautéed funky chicken performed while farting in their opponents’ general direction.
Italy: running away from their opponents towards their own try line as fast as they can in a disorganised rabble, with a few sneaking back to ask if they can swap shirts now instead of later.
Japan: a mass hara-kiri, this being preferable to yet another 100-point deficit by half-time.
Canada: a mad dash around the periphery of the pitch by the 7 players in the team, asking spectators if they have Canadian grandparents and if so, would they like to play?
South Africa: I'd rather not go there if you don't mind.


  1. Further suggestions...??
    Rather than the English doing a Morris dance (which has to be said does look a tad "gay" so not a good look for the English players!?!) they could just set King George's Dragon on them?
    The Welsh could just beat up the opposing team with handfulls of leeks!
    The Scots could drive them away with their bagpipes and a Highland fling up their butts..
    The Irish could rely on their Leprechauns just for luck??...
    The Italians could tie them up with spaghetti (hmmm)..
    The French could "let them eat cake" cos they always feel sorry for the opposition?!
    And yep... the South Africans... probably best not to go there...

  2. Well Sarah, that might be good for synchronised swimming or international dolphin-fondling but we are talking rugby here, which, for all the waxed chests, fake blood injuries, misbehaviour at tournaments and increasingly dodgy hairstyles, still has to pretend that it maintains certain standards.
    (Note to rugby aficionados who think football inferior without considering the nature of the game itself but only that of those who play it: "Told you so: that's professionalism for ya".)

  3. Talking of professionalism, maybe there's a good point.. there's nothing wrong with a team of fit lads on a weekend running around with a ball be it round or oval showing their honed skills and then all shaking hands over a pint or two in the bar afterwards.. It's in the professional world that sometimes the "look", the money and the "misbehaviour" seem to take precedent over the enjoyment of the game...

  4. I agree Sarah. The only loyalty is shown by the fans and a few - exceptional - players. Rugby has not yet gone as far as my beloved football, nor may it ever given certain other cultural mores that attach to the two games, in this country at least, but to regard them as opposites is wrong.

  5. I think it is good that rugby and football keep their distance. If rugby ever got like football it would definately spoil the game! Its just about the "mentality" of both the players and a lot of the spectators of football I really dont like!I could never be persuaded to enjoy football however technically talented the sport might be. I just love watching big strong hunky men in battle on the field!! :-D

  6. I still think you are judging both games by how they have come to be portrayed (and thus have come to portray themselves). Why do so many people so blithely and easily see rugby and football as polar opposites? Why is one white (or black) and the other black (or white)? Part of the answer is suggested in the well-known saying, "Football is a game for gentlemen played by thugs, and rugby is a game for thugs played by gentlemen." Both games are infused with meanings that come from beyond them, and that require an opposite in order to make sense to those who hold them. I think the supposed opposition between rugby and football is explicable in these terms and is therefore a false one. I certainly think I understand your wanting to watch big, hunky, yet nonetheless mostly clean-cut and articulate men reduce each other to gooey pulp, just as I can understand my former self wanting to emigrate to Cuba at the age of 15 so that I could ogle their female volleyball players all day (and hopefully all night). But that says nothing about the GAME of volleyball; nor does the fact that too many footballers are cheating, dishonest, monosyllabic, bling-bedazzled men-children with dodgy barnets say very much about football.

  7. I agree with the "football is a game for gentleman played by thugs (er yes!!) and rugby for thugs played by gentlemen" analogy but I suppose I grew up with rugby as my now estranged hubby played since his teens (when we met) and grew up with the sport which I always enjoyed and yes in some ways it became spoilt when it changed to pro and is almost on a par with football but with more intelligent players who can generally string 2 sentences together!! Ah well, lets beg to differ on that subject!! :-D