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Dublin: 11°C Saturday 24 October 2020
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Ireland U20s fronted up to the haka in a unique way on Saturday - and it clearly worked

“It was that green wall that they were going to experience for the 80 minutes.”

NIGEL CAROLAN’S IRISH U20 players struck a telling blow before the start of Saturday’s clash with New Zealand with a unique approach to the haka which could now be copied by other teams.

haka

Teams have tried various means over the years to deal with the haka. In 1989 Willie Anderson and his Irish colleagues linked arms and shuffled forward into the All Blacks; two years later at the 1991 World Cup David Campese showed the ancient war cry disdain as he kicked a ball about behind his posts as the rest of his Australian faced their opponents.

On Saturday, Irish captain James Ryan stepped forward to face the New Zealand players while his colleagues lined up on the ten-metre line behind him, spreading right out across the pitch from one sideline to another.

It was a declaration by Ireland that New Zealand were going to face a wall of green all afternoon — as indeed it transpired as they carved out a historic 33-24 win.

“A few years ago I was involved in a team that challenged the haka and paraded towards them,” said victorious coach Carolan.

“But we spoke to the lads and James Ryan stood out in front of our players and that was our challenge.

“We were behind our captain and we covered the pitch. If their players wanted to eye-ball our guys they had to go from sideline to sideline.

“It was that green wall that they were going to experience for the 80 minutes,” said Carolan.

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John Fallon

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