Tag Archives: The haka

Encore the Haka..

The Haka, subject of my last post, continued to make news several days after the rugby itself, a relief for English fans. A colleague, Richard Myers, who happily combines the talents of creative director and rugby coach, had this to say;

“I was at Twickenham and I thought the raucous, full-spirited Swing Low was effective and partly dulled the edge the Haka can create.

On one level the Haka is a piece of hokum theatre.  It would have more of a genuine role if all 22 All Blacks were maoris, but they started using it when the heritage of most of the players was farming in Scotland and Wales rather than repelling said Euros from the two islands.  Today’s players are a mixture of Euros and Pacific Islanders (who have their own version of the Haka) with a few maoris making up the numbers.  Incidentally, the tradition is that the Haka is indeed led by someone with maori blood in their veins.

Today, I think the Haka works less as a ‘challenge’ to the ‘enemy’ and more of a call to teamship for the All Blacks, a timely reiteration of what being an All Black means, that the shirt is priceless and that winning is all.

Applying this to business pitching (ahead of the pitch) and you would have a powerful ritual, instilling a oneness of purpose and the parking of egos, and creating an invisible but compelling feeling for the pitchee that here is a group of people who want your business and deserve it.”

Thank you Richard.

“Flutey insists he can hack the haka”.

Over the last two weeks, the ‘haka’ has been the subject of more news coverage than the rugby.  It started in Cardiff a week ago. Usually, at their home ground, the Welsh team can rely on a combination of massed male voice choirs, Land of our Fathers and Katherine Jenkins to give them the psychological edge-except against the All Blacks.

They have the haka.  Performed immediately before the whistle, for maximum impact, The Maori war chant once came before battle where ‘exaggerated grimaces are used to throw fear into the hearts of the enemy’.  Today, ‘it animates the players combative spirit’.  As Sean Fitzpatrick, legendary All Black captain, said on television “the haka is about us”.

Last week the Welsh tried to undo the haka by standing still and tall.  Mid-week, English players were quoted, ” Your dreaded haka doesn’t frighten me” said Nick Collins, “Flutey insists he can hack the haka”.  Yesterday, the crowd at Twickenham tried to counter it with a raucous ‘swing low sweet chariot’.  It was fun but the All Blacks were always going to win.

The point of all this?  Pitching,  whether in battle, on the field or in the office is about performance.  How you start matters!  A powerful, surprise opening is critical.  It lifts you up.  It lifts your audience. It fires expectation.