Challenge Accepted

Watch and learn, Ireland: It's the best responses to the haka

Though it usually just ends in a New Zealand victory anyway.

IRELAND’S RUGBY STARS will this afternoon link arms and face up to the most intimidating sight in sports, this side of a Roy Keane press conference: the haka.

The world champion All Blacks will aim to become the first national side to go through a calendar year with a perfect record by beating Joe Schmidt’s side at Lansdowne Road.

So, what can the Irish learn from past experience? Here’s five of our favourite responses to the Kiwi ritual.

1. Ireland v New Zealand (1989)

The most famous of them all. But is Paul O’Connell brave/stupid enough to repeat Willie Anderson’s tactic of dragging his team up the pitch to meet the Kiwis’ challenge?

YouTube: docathail

2. England v New Zealand (1997)

“What the **** have you done, Cocker?” asked Martin Johnson after Richard Cockerill fronts up to Norm Hewitt.

YouTube: tuitime

3. New Zealand v Tonga (2003)

The islanders performing the sipi tau at the same time as the haka is incredibly cool until you realise they merely poked the bear and ultimately lost by 80-odd points.

YouTube: chokkolatt

4. New Zealand v Lions (2005)

Ultimately, this was Lions captain Brian O’Driscoll’s greatest contribution to the Tour. Minutes after he answered a Tana Umaga-led haka by picking up a blade of grass and throwing it in the air — a traditional response, he was told — the Leinster man was spear-tackled by the All Blacks skipper and his tour was over.

YouTube: Jemma19

Wales v All Blacks, (2008)

Grand Slam champions Wales weren’t going to give an inch before their Cardiff meeting with the tourists. The hosts held their ground after the haka, prompting a spine-tingling couple of minutes in which the ref had to beg both teams to play the actual game. Again, the All Blacks won.

YouTube: davz1992

What’s your favourite? What have we forgotten?

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