Owen Farrell and his teammates have explained why England lined up against the haka in a V shape immediately before kick-off in today’s World Cup semi-final.
As Ireland learned last week, taking a step forward against the haka doesn’t always result in an inspired performance but England decided to take a different approach for their clash with the reigning champions.
Each corner of the V shape encroached past the halfway line, which under regulations, is something you’re not allowed to do. But, despite calls from the officials to take a step back, England continued.
Ultimately, Farrell said he didn’t want his side to stand in a flat line and allow the All Blacks to “come at us”.
“We knew we had to be within a radius behind them and we wanted to not just stand there and let them come at us,” Farrell said in the post-match press conference.
“We wanted to keep a respectful distance but we didn’t just want to stand in a flat line and let them come at us.”
Manu Tuilagi admitted after the game that the idea came from their coach Eddie Jones.
“Everyone wanted to show that we were ready and together,” Tuilagi said.
“It was something different that I think Eddie suggested. It was to show we were ready to accept the challenge against New Zealand and any game against them is tough particularly in a semi-final. You have to make all your tackles, use all the possession really well and we did that today.”
Elliot Daly admitted that the players wanted to do something different.
“It’s something we spoke about, and obviously we wanted to be respectful,” Daly said.
“But we just wanted to accept the challenge from them. I know that we were accepting it, and it was just something different.”
Sam Underhill, who was superb throughout, revealed that the players wanted to show the All Blacks that they were up to the challenge.
“We know the haka is the New Zealand team laying down the challenge and we wanted to show in a small way that we were up for it.”
Courtney Lawes echoed Underhill’s sentiment.
“Yes, we wanted to be respectful, but we wanted to show that we weren’t just going to sit there and take whatever they had.
“We wanted to show we were just as up for the game, and we thought it was a good way of doing that. We didn’t go there to cause any disrespect. We just wanted to show that we were up for the challenge.”