England players watch the All Blacks perform their haka. (Kyodo News via AP)
England players watch the All Blacks perform their haka. (Kyodo News via AP)

World reacts to ‘joke’ haka ruling

World Rugby has been accused of mixed messages after reportedly fining England for its counter to New Zealand's haka three days after trumpeting it as "incredible" on its official YouTube channel.

Before their stunning 19-7 win in Yokohama last Saturday that ended the All Blacks' eight-year reign as world champions, England lined up in a V formation to counter New Zealand's traditional Maori challenge.

A clip posted by World Rugby captioned "England's incredible response to intense New Zealand haka" has been viewed almost 4 million times, putting the governing body in an awkward spot after it reprimanded the semi-final winner and delivered a "four-figure sum".

The Guardian's report was met with fury in some corners.

 

Others took an opposite view. "I love the Haka. I loved England's response, equally. All teams are told not to cross the halfway line when responding. England were fined for crossing the halfway line. Simple as that," wrote Rugby World Magazine's Paul Williams.

It is understood the protocol states opponents must not cross the halfway line but at the two tips of England's V formation, six players - Joe Marler, Billy Vunipola, Mark Wilson, Elliot Daly, Luke Cowan-Dickie and Ben Youngs - appeared to be standing in New Zealand's half.

Match officials could be seen urging England players to return to their own half before appearing to be sufficiently content with their positions to let them stay where they were.

After the match, England players revealed coach Eddie Jones had been behind the unusual way they lined up, with captain Owen Farrell, seen smiling during the haka, saying: "We wanted not to just stand there and let them come at us."

England will bid to lift the Webb Ellis Cup for a second time when they return to Yokohama for this Saturday's final against two-time champions South Africa.

In 2011, France formed an arrow head shape and advanced on New Zealand while they performed the haka before the World Cup final in Auckland and were subsequently fined $3,212 for breaching a "cultural ritual protocol".