Who has got the cure for the sit-at-home blues? Ask Dr Grabthar. Now with bigger, easier to read font!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Haka, Tu Meke!

Before American Football games, the whole team (roughly 50 guys) all huddle together around the team’s spiritual leader. This player leads the team in chants and gets the team psyched up and ready to go out and SMASH THE OTHER GUYS INTO THE GROUND!!!

Before All Black matches the team gathers around a spiritual leader who leads the team in a chant. A challenge called a haka. This is a sign of respect to the team’s opposition. But more than that it gets the team psyched up and ready to go out and SMASH THE OTHER GUYS INTO THE GROUND!!!

There is nothing in the rules that says the other team has to stand and watch. In fact teams in the past have walked away, kicked a ball around or just huddled together and not looked. Other teams have responded to the challenge such as linking arms and walking towards the haka. Irish captain Brian O’Driscoll famously picked some grass and threw it in the air, which he was advised to do by a kaumatua (then O’Driscoll was unfortunately smashed into the ground). Displays like this are not necessary but are extremely respectful to the All Blacks.

There is also no rule that says other teams can’t have their own team psyche-up session. This could be getting in a huddle, doing their own challenge (like the other pacific nations do) or singing a national song. The Australians sing Waltzing Matilda after the All Blacks do the haka; New Zealand has never complained about this, only wondered how that particular song could pump-up a team.

The haka is also an intimidation tactic. However, its effect is debatable. Here is what Australian Hooker Jeremy Paul said about Saturday’s haka.

"It's great. . . it's unique and something that's good for the game," Paul admitted there was far more to worry about than the final gesture in the haka.

"I'm more scared of (All Blacks flanker) Jerry Collins' forearm than I am of that."

Then we come to the idiots…
“The throat slitting motion at the end of the haka is a death threat. If I see it again I will step down [as vice-president and treasurer of the Featherston Rugby Club] and file a report with the police for threatening to kill”
This person is actually serious, at least serious enough to tell the story to the paper yesterday. I can’t understand how people can think this. As has been pointed out in the comments here at The Hammer, the gesture is meant to drawn across the chest not the throat and symbolises the drawing of breath into the lungs before battle (although it has to be said that when it was first performed the gesture was said to be representing “the cutting edge of sport”). Personally I put most of it down to theatrics, especially Piri Weepu.

To the detractors: get over it. I have had a flurry of hits to the blog over the weekend as people from, literally, all over the rugby watching world searched the internet for “Kapa O Pango video”. People want to see it. Sport may be honourable and great but it is also supposed to be exciting and spectacular (for the most part). The haka helps that a good way.

Oh you want to Saturday’s one?

(just take note: it contains Australian commentary)


In other sports-related topics…

America (and possibly Canada) is the last bastion of the word soccer. The entire rest of the world uses the term “football”, soccer being derived merely from the word “association”. America will never change its ways as long as American Football exists so I don’t think anyone minds too much.

The New Zealand Football Association and its new Football Championship might be a little annoyed though at every media agency in the country referring to the sport as “Soccer”.

How hard is it? Mike McRoberts on TV3 couldn’t even pronounce “Zidane” correctly.

Speaking of which, Zinedine Zidane has been named the player of the tournament for the FIFA World Cup. Despite head-butting Materazzi. Various lip readers have come up with suggestions as to what Materazzi could have said.
An Italian lip-reader told the BBC that Materazzi said: "I wish an ugly death to
you and all your family." Zidane is thought to have just received news that his
mother is in ailing health. According to the lip-reader, Materazzi then said:
"Go f*** yourself."

A Brazilian television channel, Globo, quoted
lip-readers as saying the Italian defender called Zidane's sister a "whore".
This, however, only makes sense if Zidane spoke decent Italian.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I recall reading in one of the articles about the "incident" that Zidane speaks Italian quite well, due to a stint at Juventus. I'm not sure whether it's accurate, but it would explain him being able to understand Materazzi.