South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus does not believe that England’s response to the haka in their 19-7 win over New Zealand on Saturday was disrespectful.
Eddie Jones’ side lined up in a V-formation while facing down the All Blacks in a move they say meant “no offence” to the opposition.
According to World Rugby rules, no team is allowed to cross the half-way line during the haka but a number of England players appeared to have stepped across the half-way line while in the formation. Calls from officials for the players to step back were ignored.
In 2011, France were fined €2,500 for breaking a “cultural ritual protocol” when they lined up in an arrow shape, crossing the half-way mark, during the World Cup final.
When asked his thoughts on the issue on Tuesday, Erasmus stated that the move added more “spice” to the game.
“I’m not 100 per cent sure what to make of that. We face the haka regularly, twice a year, and we are used to it. We definitely don’t feel it gives them an advantage and it doesn’t intimidate us’, said Eramus.
“It’s more of an honour for us to face it. It maybe lifts them a little bit more, and there may be some signs behind that which gives them a little bit more of an advantage – I’m not knowledgeable enough to tell you if it does.
“But it was certainly interesting, it was certainly exciting. It was certainly something new, and it brought some spice to the test match.
“I don’t think it was disrespectful, and it was something new for everyone in world rugby. I wouldn’t make a big issue about it, but it’s not for me to decide.”
Jones has been known to throw curveballs at the opposition during media interviews prior to big games and just last week, he claimed someone had been spying on the England camp during the tournament.
However, while Erasmus is aware that the Australian native might add a few surprises in the build-up and on the field, he knows what to expect from England.
“I’ve coached four times against Eddie now, and there’s never been any of those normal discussions via the media or something between myself and Eddie in the previous four test matches.
“So, I’m expecting the same kind of normal build-up to a test match. He might surprise us.
“What I do expect on the field is a very well-coached England team. A fit England team with a great tactical plan, and then obviously the physicality that England brought to New Zealand was just next level last Saturday.
“It’s been a long time since I saw an England team pitch up with that amount of physicality. They must be brimming with confidence, and I’m sure they are ready to bring that same intensity. We will have to be really up to try and match that.”
Meanwhile, South Africa have been handed a major boost ahead of Saturday’s decider with the news that Cheslin Kolbe is fit for selection.