Former Wallabies coach and controversial broadcaster Alan Jones has urged Australian players to “take a stand against the haka” – rather than taking a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement – when they face the All Blacks in the third Bledisloe Cup test in Sydney on Saturday.
Ian Foster’s side need one victory from the remaining two tests Down Under to retain the Bledisloe Cup for an 18th year, following a draw in Wellington and a comfortable 27-7 win a week later at Eden Park.
In a column for The Australian, Jones, who last year drew flak from all quarters for his comments about New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, encourages the Wallabies to “get in their faces” during the haka, adding he doesn’t believe the All Blacks “have any right issuing a challenge to the Wallabies on Australian soil”.
The shock jock announced his retirement in May after more than 30 years in the industry – shortly after telling his listeners Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison should “shove a sock down the throat” of Ardern.
Leading in to this weekend’s clash at ANZ Stadium, there were suggestions the Wallabies would take a knee during the national anthem in support of the global BLM movement.
Wallabies coach Dave Rennie later confirmed the team would remain on their feet, and instead would be honouring the country’s indigenous people by donning their indigenous jersey for just the second time on home soil.
Jones, however, wants to see the side stand up in defiance of the challenge laid down by the All Blacks’ haka.
“Rather than taking a knee or wearing the indigenous Wallaby jersey, take a stand against the haka,” Jones wrote.
Their pre-match haka has long been a feature of the All Blacks’ game-day, regardless of whether they are playing on home soil or abroad – as do nations such as Samoa, Tonga and Fiji when they are performing their cultural challenges.
While they are doing so, their opposition are required to keep a 20m distance under World Rugby regulations.
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There have been several occasions where the All Blacks’ haka has been challenged in some way. Ahead of their semi-final at last year’s World Cup, England stood in a V-formation to face the haka to show they were ready to fight; France did the same ahead of the 2011 World Cup final.
Four years earlier, France walked up to the All Blacks and stood face to face with them as they were laying down the challenge.
In 2008, Wales stood rooted to their spot after the All Blacks finished laying down their challenge, leading to an awkward stand-off between the two as the referee attempted to tell them to get in position for the game to start.
Australia have mounted their own challenge in the past, including in Wellington in 1996 where the Wallabies turned their backs on the haka – focusing on their own warm-ups instead. The All Blacks won the game 43-6.
While it has become a big feature of the All Blacks, Jones wrote that he thought it was extraordinary World Rugby allowed the All Blacks to perform it ahead of every game regardless of location.
“Remember, they get a national anthem as well,” he wrote.
“I would like the Wallabies to go “old school” on Saturday. By that I mean standing up to the All Blacks when they perform the haka.
“Why should they have to stand 20m away? I would be saying to the team, get in their faces.
“The Wallabies have to make a stand on Saturday. It starts before the kick-off; it should start during the haka. If World Rugby wants to fine the Wallabies, then so be it. Wallaby supporters would pay the fine 10 times over. We just want to see our boys play with passion and belief.
“I mean no offence to the All Blacks. They are a wonderful side. New Zealand is a fine country and we have the best of relationships. But, nonetheless, I do not believe the All Blacks have any right issuing a challenge to the Wallabies on Australian soil.”
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