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France fined for haka breach

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France fined for haka breach
Kiwi Flickr (File)
10:14 CEST+02:00

The French rugby team has been slapped with a £2,500 ($4,000) fine for its show of defiance during the haka performed by the New Zealand team before the kick-off in Sunday's World Cup final.

The French team stood in a V-shape and joined hands before walking towards the New Zealand team. They then stood in a line facing their opponents and glaring at them. 

New Zealand went on to win the match 8-7.

The International Rugby Board has slapped the French runners-up with the fine after some members of the team stepped across the halfway line. This is a breach of the regulations on how the haka should be treated.

The haka is a traditional ancestral war cry by the Maori people of New Zealand.

There are thousands of different types, the best known being the Ka Mate. In recent years the All Blacks have introduced the Kapa o Pango haka which features a drawing of the thumb across the throat, which some have perceived as a throat-slitting gesture. In Sunday's haka only one player performed the throat move.

Many writers and commentators argued that the fine was unnecessary.

"An agreeably sporting and keenly-fought World Cup final has still somehow managed to leave us with yet another haka-related moment of deep-tedium," wrote Barney Ronay in the UK Guardian. 

Even New Zealand manager Darren Shand agreed, saying in a radio interview on Tuesday that a fine was too severe.

"They came to play and that was great," he said. "The culture challenge is that. It should be done and then we get on with the real stuff. I hope it's not overstated."

French captain Thierry Dusautoir said the team had decided that morning how to face down the haka.

"At one stage we were so close to them that they wanted to kiss the New Zealanders, but I told them to take it easy," he said, reported French sports newspaper L'Equipe.

The French team will be received by President Sarkozy at the Elysée palace on Wednesday after arriving in Paris in the early afternoon.

The reception will be followed by a public celebration of Les Bleus performance at the Place de la Concorde at 5pm.

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