RWC 2011: Battle of 'challenges' set for Eden Park
Story and Photo: www.rugbyworldcup.com
AUCKLAND, 8 Sept - The match between New Zealand and Tonga may not be the only clash on the pitch at Eden Park when Rugby World Cup 2011 begins on Friday.
Tonga have won the right to perform their war dance, known as the sipi tau, first.
New Zealand goes next and it is up to the All Blacks to decide when to perform their challenge, the haka.
"The second team performing the challenge can wait until the first team finishes their challenge or they can start after the first team starts,'' said tournament director Kit McConnell.
"So it's not up to us to tell the teams how they choose to perform their challenge, but Tonga will start their challenge first, and (on Friday) it's up to New Zealand to determine when and how they respond to that."
Tonga captain Finau Maka said this week his preference was for the team to do their hakas separately so each could be properly appreciated by their opponents and the crowd.
At the time, however, he believed New Zealand would start and Tonga could determine when they responded.
"I'd prefer to see one team do the haka and the other team face up to the challenge. After that the other team do theirs," he said.
"I'd rather that than two teams doing the haka and the sipi tau at the same time."