Saturday 24 February 2018

'I find that sentiment extremely ignorant': New Zealand pundits slam ex-All Black who branded haka vs Ireland 'disrespectful'

New Zealand rugby pundits have hit back at claims that the All Blacks disrespected Ireland with an aggressive haka before last Saturday's clash at Soldier Field.

Before kick off, Ireland lined up in a figure of eight to pay tribute to the recently departed Anthony Foley, while the All Blacks performed their traditional pre-match haka.

Read more: 'It was disrespectful: Ex-All Black not happy with 'aggressive' haka in response to Ireland's Anthony Foley tribute

However, the team's decision to opt for the Kapa O Pango haka wasn't backed by everyone, with ex-All Black Craig Dowd saying that the team were 'disrespectful' to respond to Ireland's gesture of remembrance with an 'aggressive challenge'.

That view has not been endorsed by some of New Zealand's top rugby pundits.

Speaking on The Breakdown on Sky in New Zealand, host Scotty Stevenson was the first to hit out at Dowd.

"I can't tell you how much I disagree with the sentiment of that column," he said.

"I find that sentiment extremely ignorant writing for a market that would gobble it up."

One of Stevenson's' colleagues contended that the haka that was performed isn't intended as a war challenge, but is instead used to mark big occasions.

"The issue that I have with the column is that it is factually incorrect," he said.

"He referred to the haka as a war dance and that is what he saw as disrespectful. It is actually the complete antithesis of that.

"He refers to the fact that a lot of hakas have weapon actions in them. Kapa O Pango doesn't, simply because it is ceremonial and not a war challenge, so therefore if you look at that column, the issue that I have is that it's factually incorrect in what he's saying, and he's having a spray at something that is actually, in it's entirety, wrong."

All Blacks legend Christian Cullen, who was a team-mate of Foley's at Munster, thinks that the New Zealand team opted for that particular haka to pay their own tribute to the departed legend.

"That's a mark of respect for the Irish, for 'Axel' Foley," Cullen said.

"They bring it out (Kapa O Pango) for special occasions, when they know it's gonna be a challenge."

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