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Dublin: 8 °C Wednesday 12 December, 2018
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Haka response from Ireland a statement that they refused to take a backward step

‘We wanted to go after them, not step away, not accept being bullied by them.’

Sean Farrell reports from the Aviva Stadium

NEW ZEALAND HAVE made a habit of making fools of many who have attempted to disrupt, confront or shunned the haka.

Kapo a Pango or Ka Mate, and how a team stands up to the pre-game challenge, by no means determines how a Test will go. But when it is performed by the world champions it can be a fearsome sight. And the intimidation – be it real or imagined — the All Blacks see materialising in rival teams must be a helping hand in a collision sport.

New Zealand perform the Haka Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Many have tried to find a good way to confront the haka and negate it, but the methods are soon tossed on the scrap-heap when Kiwi class is turned on to win the match itself.

Before recording their first ever home win over the All Blacks, Ireland offered a response by way of a step forward towards their rivals during a break in TJ Perenara’s recitation.

It was subtle enough to bear no comparison to Willie Anderson’s face-to-face meeting with Buck Shelford in 1989, but it was more than enough to stir 50,000 onlookers and meld crowd and team together for the 80 intense minutes ahead. 

“I think it just represented the fact we weren’t going to take a backward step the whole game,” said Josh van der Flier, who kept the promise better than most as he stepped to make 16 tackles (none missed).

Source: Rugby Mad SA/YouTube

“That’s what Besty said to us. We wanted to go after them, not step away, not accept being bullied by them.

“That was part of it and then I suppose it’s a pretty special moment as a team all being together.”

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Sean Farrell

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