England are set to discover on Monday whether they will be fined for their V-shaped response to New Zealand’s haka in their World Cup semi-final victory against the All Blacks on Saturday.
England’s players revealed that Eddie Jones was behind the plan to counter New Zealand’s traditional Maori challenge in order to show they were “ready for anything”.
Mako Vunipola admitted that “we knew it would rile them up” while the captain, Owen Farrell, who could be seen smirking during the dance, said: “We wanted not to just stand there and let them come at us.”
Aaron Smith, the New Zealand scrum-half, said afterwards that Farrell was winking at him while the haka was being performed.
In 2011 France formed an arrow shape and advanced on New Zealand while they performed the haka before the World Cup final and were subsequently fined £2,500 for breaching a “cultural ritual protocol”.
It is understood that the protocol states that 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 the All Blacks’ half.
Match officials could be seen trying to encourage the players to return to their own half, but to no avail. It is believed World Rugby will consider on Monday whether any punishment is warranted but, given the precedent set with France eight years ago, it would be a surprise if England were not sanctioned in a similar manner.
“[Joe Marler] said he got confused,” Mako Vunipola said. “He thought he was supposed to go all the way around it and go to their 10. But because of that, he’s the one who has to pay the fine. He dishes it out a lot so the boys would be more than happy if he has to pay it.”