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Reports of half-naked New Zealanders performing a haka at the last International Bridge Tournament in Reykjavik suggest it’s time to deal with this nuisance. Certainly before the November fixture at Twickenham. No doubt the haka is all very well in its time and place – but that place was long ago and far away. It’s essentially a cannibal war dance designed to scare the living daylights out of those you hope to kill and eat. They may be guests. They may be enemies. They may optimistically imagine they’re friends. Whatever – their destiny is dinner.

Formerly something for Maori only, the haka is now performed indiscriminately by New Zealanders of every size, shape, sex and description, whenever they think they can get away with it, plus rolling eyes, fearful grimaces, rude gestures, protruding tongues, bared teeth and horrible cries and yells.

True, tourist brochures advertise it as a friendly “greeting”, and scholars tell us there are haka suitable for welcoming the first cuckoo in spring. But I haven’t seen them and nor has anyone else. The only ones I’ve seen provide a terpsichorean apéritif for the anthropophagy to follow.

We should never forget the true nature and purpose of sport. Or that much of the past 1,000 years has been spent drawing the fangs of real-life homicidal combat, neutralising bloody stoushes between clans and tribes and turning deadly instincts into harmless play. The rise of Homo Ludens accompanied the rise of civil society. It converted medieval melées of contumacious knights from something only marginally less dangerous than military combat into a kind of game on a playing field. As sport evolved it ritualised territorial rivalries and gradually lowered the temperature of endemic social conflict.

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Scrum Half
August 4th, 2008
4:08 PM
Back in '53/54 I saw the All Blacks at both Welford Road and Twickers, and have always though the Haka was a bit daft at a rugger match. In any cases the indigenous people in my local town do something like it every Saturday night when clubbing and boozing. There is plenty of blood around, but they are not eating each other. Yet, that is.

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