England have been hit with a £2,000 fine for their response to the haka ahead of the Rugby World Cup final, having been punished by World Rugby for crossing the halfway line before last Saturday’s semi-final victory over New Zealand.
Joe Marler, Ben Youngs, Elliot Daly, Billy Vunipola, Luke Cowan-Dickie and Mark Wilson all crossed into the New Zealand half as the England players deployed an inverted ‘V’ formation during the All Blacks’ pre-match war dance, which set their tone for their phenomenal 19-7 victory over the reigning world champions.
A World Rugby statement said: “England have been fined for a breach of Rugby World Cup 2019 tournament rules relating to cultural challenges, which states that no players from the team receiving the challenge may advance beyond the halfway line.
“This is in line with the protocol which operates globally across the international game and is adopted by major international tournaments.
“All fines issued at Rugby World Cup 2019 are being donated to World Rugby’s official charitable programme, ChildFund Pass It Back, which is transforming the lives of more than 25,000 disadvantaged children in Asia.
“The matter is closed and World Rugby will not make further comment.”
The Independent understands that the Rugby Football Union has been fined a four-figure fee for the stunt, although it is not thought to be as much as the £2,500 that France were sanctioned for their response ahead of the 2011 Rugby World Cup final.
But World Rugby have been accused of hypocrisy with the decision after putting video footage of the incident out on their social media and YouTube channels with the caption “"England's incredible response to intense New Zealand haka”, which has already been viewed more than 4m times.
The players revealed after Saturday’s historic victory that Eddie Jones signed off on the move to confront the haka, but Farrell did admit that the team still planned to keep their distance in a show of respect to the All Blacks, even if their aim was to show they would not be daunted by the challenge.
"We didn't just want to stand in a flat line and let them come at us," said Farrell, who also smiled and winked at the opposition during the haka.
All Blacks captain Kieran Read added that he felt England’s response had no impact on the match whatsoever, while England’s Manu Tuilagi said: "Everyone wanted to show that we were ready and together. It was something different that I think Eddie suggested."
Jones’s opposite number Erasmus defended England over the move to respond to New Zealand’s challenge, and believes that
“I’m not 100 per cent sure what to make of that,” said the South African coach, “but it was certainly interesting and it was exciting. It was certainly something new, and it brought some spice to the test match.
“I don’t think it was disrespectful, and it was something new for everyone in world rugby. I wouldn’t make a big issue about it, but it’s not for me to decide.”