England decided to stare down New Zealand’s haka after Eddie Jones told them to stand in a ‘V for Victory’ stance before their World Cup semi-final.
The Red Rose produced one of their greatest-ever displays to storm into the World Cup final with a 19-7 victory over New Zealand that reduced the reigning champions to a rabble.
From the moment Manu Tuilagi crossed after 97 seconds an extraordinary match beckoned and the final scoreline did little justice to the domination of Eddie Jones’ men, who were superior in every single facet of the game.
New Zealand had won their previous 18 World Cup matches dating back to 2007 but at International Stadium Yokohama they were flattened by a juggernaut led by the unstoppable Maro Itoje.
England will face either South Africa or Wales in next Saturday’s final and having crushed the odds-on favourites to win the Webb Ellis Trophy, they will be expected to repeat their solitary triumph of 2003.
Much was made before the game as to how the players would respond to the Haka from the All Blacks, with World Rugby regulations stipulating teams must be at least 10m away.
France formed an arrow before the 2011 World Cup final, but ultimately went on to lose. But this time, it seems as though England got a psychological edge over New Zealand. TJ Perenara led the Kapa o Pango dance, with Owen Farrell seen smiling during the performance.
Aaron Smith revealed afterwards Farrell also winked at him during the haka, with Manu Tuilagi claiming it showed England were ‘ready for anything’. He scored with less than two minutes on the clock.
“We talked about it as a team but everything has to get past the boss,” said Mako Vunipola. “He gave us the idea.
“We wanted to be respectful but we wanted to also make sure that they understood that we would be ready for the fight. We knew it would rile them up, it probably felt like we disrespected them.
“We meant no offence by it; we just wanted to let them know that we were ready for the challenge ahead.
“There have been a few times in the past when the All Blacks have done that and blown the opposition away.
“We put accountability on ourselves to back it up and I thought we did.”
Owen Farrell added: “We wanted to keep a respectful distance but we didn’t just want to stand in a flat line and let them come at us.”
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