It may be a commentary of sorts that Steve Hansen felt it necessary to defend the All Blacks pre-game choreography.
The dance is known as the haka and some former players feel that it may be time to send the ritual down the same path to oblivion followed by disco.
We ourselves find it very useful to get ourselves in the proper state of mind before confronting our wives with our extremely sound reasoning of why we should be camped in front of our sets watching football, rather than outside pushing the mower through the knee-high grass. It has proved ineffective for that purpose, as our closely manicured lawn will attest.
Former All Black Kees Meeuws thinks that the ritual is overused and has lost its mana.
Let the Wallabies win the Bledisloe Cup in the absence of the haka and Meeuws might find himself on the wrong end of a poison aboriginal dart, or something.
Our personal preference is that the haka is far superior to the comedy/ballet dance routines the NFL gridiron players have concocted now that the league has seen fit to no longer levy penalties on players who are happy over scoring a touchdown and hope to make the highlight reel of ESPN.
Hansen disagreed with Meeuws’ assessment.
“I don’t think it’s being used too much, it’s part of the tradition. I found it interesting that someone like Kees would say it’s being used too much. When he was there he thrived on it.We don’t use it any different than we’ve ever used it. It’s part of the commencement of a game and it means a lot to this group,” Hansen said.
For athletes, it is sometimes difficult to find a logical explanation for on-field success, but as a group, they are a superstitious lot and asking them to give up the haka would fall in between asking them to give up their lucky socks and actual pre-game human sacrifice.
We recently watched the All Blacks do the haka prior to a Test with France. Much to their credit, the French footballers kept a straight face throughout.