Rugby World Cup 2019: England knew challenging haka would 'rile' All Blacks

England prop Mako Vunipola says Eddie Jones was the mastermind behind the plan to stand in a V-shape when facing the All Blacks' haka, adding they knew it would "rile them". 

Rarely do the All Blacks get challenged during the haka, so when the sellout Yokohama crowd saw England change the script as TJ Perenara began 'Kapa o Pango', they went into a frenzy. 

In 2008 Wales stood their ground after New Zealand's haka while France formed an arrow before the 2011 World Cup final. On both occasions, the All Blacks went on to win.

Teams usually stand 20m back from the haka, but some of England's players were just metres away, and the referees even had to warn Joe Marler to move back, but the prop ignored orders. 

Cleary it had some effect as England went onto beat the All Blacks for the first time since 2012 to reach the Rugby World Cup final. 

Vunipola told the Guardian the V-formation was to show the All Blacks they were ready to battle. 

"We talked about it as a team, but everything has to get past the boss. He gave us the idea. 

"We wanted to be respectful, but we also wanted to 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 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." 

One of the highlights during the haka was when the camera cut to England Captain Owen Farrell, who had a massive smirk on his face. 

"We knew we had to be within a radius behind them and we wanted to not just stand there and let them come at us," said Farrell. 

"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."

Rugby World Cup 2019: England knew challenging haka would 'rile' All Blacks

England lock Courtney Lawes felt their challenge set the tone for the match. 

"We wanted to be respectful, but we wanted to show that we weren't just going to sit there and take whatever they had," he explained. 

"We wanted to show we were just as up for the game, and we thought it was a good way of doing that. We didn't go there to cause any disrespect. We just wanted to show that we were up for the challenge." 

However, England flanker Sam Underhill had disagreed with Lawes' views.

"No, what we did on the pitch set the tone for the game. It was staying in control, that's all you can do on the pitch. We did that.

"We know the haka is the New Zealand team laying down the challenge and we wanted to show in a small way that we were up for it."

"I kind of felt that they were maybe more up for it. They certainly seemed, as we started moving towards them, they accepted the challenge. I thought it was good."

All Blacks skipper Kieran Read felt England's challenge had no effect on his team's performance. 

"The haka had no impact on the game. They dominated the breakdown, and we couldn't work into our game, and we were chasing.

"They did a good job. The boys really wanted it. You could see it in the first half, we conceded, and we hung in there. It is pretty gutting when it doesn't go your way."

Essential Guide to 2019 Rugby World Cup

Everything you need to know about rugby and the World Cup...

The ninth Rugby World Cup kicks off on September 20 in Japan - the first time it has been hosted in Asia.

Join us at 10pm Sunday for live updates of the South Africa v Wales Rugby World Cup semi.

Newshub. 

Contact Newshub with your story tips:
news@newshub.co.nz