The first-ever clash between the Maori All Blacks and Moana Pasifika promised fireworks from the kick-off, but the pre-match challenges have set the tone for the match ahead.
Facing off against each other for the first time in their histories – the encounter being Moana Pasifika’s debut appearance – the two sides laid down their respective challenges in front of a decent crowd at FMG Stadium Waikato in Hamilton.
Moana Pasifika were the first side to perform their pre-match ritual, with plenty of intrigue surrounding how exactly the side would integrate the cultures of Fiji, Samoa and Tonga in their performance.
That question was soon answered as the composite side, which is expected to join Super Rugby in 2022, borrowed elements of Samoa’s siva tau, Tonga’s sipi tau and Fiji’s cibi to create a special cultural dance that represented all three Pacific Island nations.
The Samoan segment of the performance was led by team captain and Manu Samoa prop Michael Alaalatoa, while the Tongan part was led by ‘Ikale Tahi loose forward Nasi Manu, and the Fijian section led by Chiefs No. 8 Pita Gus Sowakula.
Their challenge was responded to appropriately by the Maori All Blacks, who performed a stirring rendition of their haka Te Timatanga.
Moana Pasifika issue a stirring pre-match challenge to the M?ori All Blacks which they respond to with their traditional haka Te T?matanga
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) December 5, 2020
Fans have since taken to Twitter in awe of both side’s challenges, with one user labelling the exchange as a “perfect” way to precede the match itself.
Another called for the Maori All Blacks and Moana Pasifika match to become an annual fixture on the rugby calendar, echoing the sentiments of two-test hooker James Parsons and Maori All Blacks halfback Bryn Hall on the Aotearoa Rugby Pod.
How good to see a little bit of each Pacific Island in that challenge? ? #MABvMPA
— Tom Vinicombe (@TomVinicombe) December 5, 2020
LESSSGOOOO ?????? #MABvMPA
— ????? ??????? (@i_sopoaga) December 5, 2020
— Knight Rai Raiosaurus (@dekrazee1) December 5, 2020
— Geri Kerr (@GSK43) December 5, 2020
Controversial opinion: Give me the Maori All Blacks haka over any other
— Nathan Williamson (@NathW1997) December 5, 2020
Already this is shaping up to be my fav game of rugby in 2020. What an awesome display of pride in their heritage from both sides. #MABvMPA
— Rowena Duncum (@rowie_nz) December 5, 2020
Love the mix of the war dance ? #MABvMPA
— Heat???/Eagles 3-7-1 ?? (@Yeezy77_) December 5, 2020
That'll do me for the year. Incredible #MABvMPA
— ? Joe Rogan Josh ? (@_OUA_) December 5, 2020
This is something real special ?? #MABvMPA
— Jessica Avery Shaw (@jessicaavery_) December 5, 2020
Some Haka that from the Maori All Blacks #MABvMPA
— Thomas Bick (@TommyBick) December 5, 2020
Those challenges! Wow!#MABvMPA
— Paul (@rugga13) December 5, 2020
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