In what’s always a rather puzzling piece of sporting bureaucracy, World Rugby officials have slapped England with a minor fine for creeping a little bit too close to the New Zealand side while they performed their ceremonial pre-game haka prior to this past weekend’s Rugby World Cup semi-final.
While the All-Blacks performed the haka, the English side stood in a V-Formation in a bid to stare down and counteract the haka, which rates as one of the most awe-inspiring traditions in global sport.
While the formation itself is perfectly legal, what’s drawn the ire of rugby officials is the fact that a handful of English players encroached past the centre line of the field, and that’s where the consternation is stemming from.
Under current rugby rules, opposing players are forbidden from advancing beyond the centre line during the haka. This past weekend, six English players did so, reportedly under order from English coach Eddie Jones.
The fine is said to be reasonably small – only mid-four figures, and less than the $4,700-odd fine France was slugged with for pulling a similar Team Stand Too Close stunt prior to the 2011 World Cup Final.
Of course, unlike the French effort, this one actually worked, with England getting an early upper hand and never relinquishing, turfing the All Blacks out of the World Cup and punching their ticket to a Final matchup against South Africa on Saturday.
News of the fine has been met with varied bemusement, given no one – not even the All Blacks – had much of a problem with England standing differently to begin with.
You simply gotta love a mostly pointless sporting decision. Someone sat down and thought that rule up. It’s beautiful stuff.