Haka to be performed as planned
November 16, 2008
The All Blacks perform the haka ahead of their victory over Ireland at Croke Park © Getty Images
There will be no repeat of the All Blacks' behind closed doors haka at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium next weekend after the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) confirmed the pre-match challenge can be performed after the respective national anthems.
The All Blacks' last visit to Wales in 2006 was marred by controversy when the WRU demanded the haka be performed before the national anthems, a ploy to take the edge out of New Zealand's preparations. They responded by performing the haka in their dressing room before teammates although the rendition was televised on the stadium screens.
WRU stadium manager Gerry Toms told the BBC there were no plans for Wales to try to move the anthems next Saturday or to respond through song as they did in 2004 when tenor soloist Wyn Evans was sent on to the field, waving a flag while he sang Bread of Heaven.
"At the moment, the last thing I've got in my plans is the haka before the game then starts," he said. It is unclear how Wales intend to respond to the challenge although Warren Gatland, a New Zealander who faces his countrymen for the first time as Wales coach, suggested the squad had something in mind.
Gatland was among the 81,214 spectators who watched the All Blacks beat Ireland 22-3 at Croke Park here last night. He and coaching staff members Rob Howley and Neil Jenkins attended the game to assess the All Blacks' kicking game.
Wales beat lowly Canada 34-13 last Friday night, a performance that left the former Waikato coach with mixed feelings. "We tried miracle offloads, miracle passes and some of our skill level let us down," he said. "The disappointing thing from my point of view is that we spoke beforehand about being clinical and ruthless.
"We had 30-odd turnovers in the game and made 19 last week against South Africa and felt that was too many.
As for Wales' chances of toppling the All Blacks for the first time since 1953, Gatland hopes his players will gain inspiration from aspects of their display against South Africa, who beat them 20-15 in their season opener.
"I think the thing is building on the South Africa performance. We've come away from that and been really disappointed although there were lots of positives out of that performance, particularly in the second half in terms of the way we dominated possession and dominated them physically as well."