Mako Vunipola England fined for ‘fantastic’ haka challenge

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England players watch All Blacks perform haka during the Rugby World Cup semifinal. (AP pic)

TOKYO: England have been fined for crossing the halfway line during New Zealand’s haka after they formed a provocative V-shaped formation at last weekend’s World Cup semifinal in Yokohama, tournament organisers said today.

Protocol states opponents must remain in their own half while the All Blacks perform their traditional war dance, but several England players strayed across halfway despite the efforts of officials to usher them back.

Despite the fine, New Zealand’s beaten coach Steve Hansen praised the way England’s players faced down the haka, calling it “fantastic” and insisting “the haka requires a response”.

England won the blockbuster semi-final 19-7 to dethrone the two-time defending champions and will take on South Africa in Saturday’s final.

As New Zealand lined up to begin the haka, England’s players opted not to face the challenge shoulder-to-shoulder, as is customary, and instead lined up in an inverted V –

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