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Last Updated: Saturday, 25 November 2006, 20:31 GMT
McCaw defends private haka choice
New Zealand refused to perform the haka on the pitch
New Zealand refused to perform the haka on the pitch
Richie McCaw defended New Zealand's unprecedented decision to perform their pre-match haka in private after a row with the Welsh Rugby Union on Saturday.

New Zealand were asked to perform the haka in between the national anthems, rather than just before kick-off.

"The tradition needs to be honoured properly if we're going to do it," the All Blacks captain said in a statement.

"If the other team wants to mess around, we'll just do the haka in the shed (changing room)."

Wales had wanted their own national anthem, Hen Wlad fy Nhadau, to be their official response to the challenge.

But McCaw said the team had acted to protect the tradition of haka that is "integral to New Zealand culture and the All Blacks' heritage".

"At the end of the day, haka is about spiritual preparation and we do it for ourselves. Traditionally fans can share the experience too and it's sad that they couldn't see it today."

We were told to stand strong in front of the All Blacks, be defiant, eyeball them

WRU statement

New Zealand showed little disruption on the pitch as they ended their unbeaten November tour with a 45-10 win over Wales at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium.

"We wanted to start well because we knew the Wales team were going to be fired up for this one," McCaw added.

"There had been a lot of talk all week and a lot of emotion, so we wanted to come out and match all that."

The WRU issued its own statement just as the game kicked off, explaining it had taken advice from Maori chiefs that it was appropriate to want to respond to the haka.

The statement read: "The WRU has also been advised by a top Maori expert and cultural adviser that the haka is performed to invite a response from the opposing team.

"We were told to stand strong in front of the All Blacks, be defiant, eyeball them and sing in a way that says: 'This is us, this is who we are, we're tangata whenua', which means the traditional owners and protectors of the land.

"The WRU informed its New Zealand counterparts of the formal pre-match protocol six weeks ago (16 October).

"This followed the pre-match protocol from the very first game in 1905 and replicated last year's schedule."

New Zealand had agreed to the same request from the WRU last year as part of the celebrations marking a centenary of rugby between the two nations.

But All Blacks manager Darren Shand insisted it was only a one-off.

"There's a tradition that has built up over 100 years. It is respected around the world and we asked the Welsh Rugby Union to do the same," he said.

"The haka is a special part of world rugby. It'll be a sad day for fans everywhere if we start to erode the tradition.

"We had concerns about last year's change that, unfortunately, seem to be justified."

Wales 10-45 New Zealand
25 Nov 06 |  Welsh


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