The New Zealand team performed the traditional Haka before their clash
New Zealand's stand-in captain Benji Marshall has accused England of being "disrespectful" by turning their backs on the haka.
England's players huddled in a circle facing inwards while the Kiwis performed the traditional war dance before their World Cup pool match.
"To be honest, I thought it was a little bit disrespectful - and a few of the boys said that," said Marshall.
"If that's how they want to approach the game, that's their choice."
He added: "It might upset a few of the boys, and maybe we could have started a bit better and worried about ourselves instead of worrying about them."
But England coach Tony Smith defended his players' actions, insisting they did nothing out of the ordinary.
"Where we come from, we get in huddles," he said. "That's what we do - whether people do hakas at us or not. When our players in England want to pump each other up, that's what they do.
"I'm not sure you should sit there and take it as a victim. Some people in some cultures would find the tongue pointed at them as offensive as well.
"If our boys want to go off and do their thing while they're doing their thing, I think it should be equal for both sides."
New Zealand recovered from 24-8 down after half an hour to claim a 36-24 victory and coach Stephen Kearney admitted afterwards he gave his side a stern talking-to at the break.
"Basically my half-time talk was about how poor our defence was. I thought we fixed it up really well in the second half," he said.
"I think the players recognised that themselves. The second-half performance showed what we are capable of.
"The pleasing thing for me was the defence."
But with the sides due to meet again in the semi-finals in Brisbane next Saturday, Marshall insisted the Kiwis will not be getting carried away with the result.
"They had players out in key positions, and we had some out as well," he said.
"If we can take anything out of the game, it's a valuable lesson that - if we don't turn up to play in the first half with the right attitude - then things can go wrong for us.
"England are a great side. They're not going to muck around, and we're not either. We're going to have to be on our game next week and start the first half the way we started the second half."