Wallabies coach Dave Rennie has explained the level of detail that went into the team’s boomerang response to the All Blacks haka.
Rennie, a New Zealander, is big on emphasising and celebrating unique cultures within teams and often refers to the Wallabies squad as a “mob.”
Rennie also leant heavily into Maori culture during his successful stint with the Chiefs in Super Rugby as the term “Chiefs mana” entered the regular lexicon.
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Wallabies advance at All Blacks haka
The Wallabies again executed their boomerang haka response before last week’s tumultuous Bledisloe Cup clash in Melbourne.
It was overshadowed by the Mathieu Raynal refereeing drama until Rennie revealed on Thursday that one of the All Blacks stars had got under his skin.
“I know Rieko Ioane had a lot to say to our boys after the final try, mouthing off at Folau Fainga’a about disrespecting the haka,” Rennie told reporters, describing Ioane’s apparent beef as “odd.”
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Rennie elaborated on the background to the boomerang in an interview with Rugby Heaven on Stan Sport.
“The All Blacks are laying down a challenge with the haka aren’t they?” Rennie said.
“If you’re a New Zealander, you face a haka with a haka. Most sides in world rugby don’t have the luxury to be able to reply or respond that way.
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“So the boomerang shape is unique to us. I’ve worked with a kaumatua (respected Maori tribal elder) in New Zealand for a lot of years and it was his suggestion back in 2020 to form a boomerang shape.
“And the idea being that we throw the boomerang out when we start the haka and it hovers above their head, mincing up their words and bringing their energy back to us.
“And the idea of advancing in the boomerang shape is to show we’re up for the challenge. I think it’s an incredibly respectful way of approaching the haka and our boys have certainly embraced it.”
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It was also a hot topic at Wallabies captain James Slipper’s Friday press conference ahead of Saturday’s Rugby Championship finale at Auckland’s Eden Park.
“We respect the haka, we respect the All Blacks team,” Slipper said.
“In every game we come up against New Zealand, we know it’s going to be a tough outing and you’ve got to pay your respect to that.
“Historically they’re a successful team and nation in rugby. They’ve won the Bledisloe for the past 20 years, so we do respect them. We’re just accepting the challenge.”
Slipper confirmed Rennie was the boomerang driver but the team had wholeheartedly embraced the response.
“We definitely talk all together as a team, but he initiated the boomerang and all of us boys really want to involve the indigenous culture within our nation,” he said.
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“We find that’s really important, we play in the indigenous jersey a few times now each year and that’s something we’re really proud of.
“So it’s a taste of our nation, our way of accepting the challenge.”
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