It’s been almost a month that the seventh Rugby World Cup has began. This year, TheInternational Rugby Board (IRB) selected New Zealand as the host country. It is the largest sporting event ever held in New Zealand. The final will be played on Sunday 23 October 2011 but for now on, everyone is holding his breath as New Zealand represented by the famous All Blacks will meet France team tomorrow. We remember that France was the last host of the Rugby World Cup in 2007 and the quarter-finals match between those two teams. Especially the fact that France team wasn’t impress by the waka performed by the All Blacks. The match was intense and people can’t wait to see who will win this time, even if they will both go on on the competition as this match is a pool game... We can say that The All Blacks has a strong weapon to win the competition. As a tradition, they used to perform before the beginning of every match, “The Haka”. It is supposed to to give them enough strength to win but also to impress the other team.
Haka is a traditional ancestral war cry, dance, or challenge from the Maori people from New Zealand. It is a posture dance performed by a group, with vigorous movements and stamping of the feet with rhythmically shouted accompaniment. It was originally performed by warriors before a battle, proclaiming their strength and power in order to intimidate the enemies. It consists in different actions or step, including facial contortions such as showing the whites of the eyes and the poking out of the tongue (a way to express the fact that they are strong warriors). It also includes a lot of vigorous body actions such as slapping the hands against the body and stamping of the feet. Basically they use all their body but also their voice to express their courage.
The origins of Haka are very old, we have to get back to the mythology to get to know how this weird tradition started. According to Maori legend, posture dancing had its origin in the coming of Hine-raumati, the Summer Maid, whose presence on calm, warm days was revealed in a curious quivering appearance in the air. This was the Haka of Tane-rore, he who was born of the Summer Maid and claimed Ra, the sun, as his father.
There are different kind of Haka : the whakatu waewae, the tutu ngarahu and the peruperu. People who performed the Haka are strong religious believer. Indeed, if in the last century, the Haka was performed in war before important battle, those people believed it was the best way for them to invoke the god of war and in this manner to discourage and frighten the enemy without using any weapons but just persuasion.
The Haka is now performed for sports events but it has the same goal as it is supposed to destabilize the other team. It was adopted by the New Zealand National Rugby Union and performed at every local and international match since 1906. Then others national teams in New Zealand decided to do it too like the Kiwis but also teams from others sport than rugby such as the Tall Blacks (men’s basketball), the Ice Blacks (men’s hockey) or the New Zealand Lacrosse team.
Even if The Haka is a clever strategy from the All Blacks to intimidate the other team, it’s not a surprise any more and we can have doubt about the efficiency but no matter what it still a good show to enjoy before a match and so much more original than cheerleaders. Tomorrow, we will see how the French rugby man will react but they will probably enjoy the show but the most important still the game itself…