A series of challenges from New Zealand’s Super Rugby teams will be unveiled when the sides face off against the British & Irish Lions in the DHL New Zealand Lions Series.
For the first time in the Blues 21-year history, the team will perform a pre-match haka, He Toa Takitini (The Strength of Many), to the visiting Lions prior to the match kicking off tomorrow night, 7 June.
Blues Head Coach Tana Umaga said the players had wanted to integrate the many cultures in the team into a unique challenge for some time and the Lions Series provided a great opportunity to lay down and challenge to the visitors in front of a passionate home crowd.
“We have an exceptional group of men who are proud of their Pacific cultures and are looking forward to connecting their heritages through a haka. We have been practising for some time and the boys will be looking forward to getting out there for what will be a fantastic occasion.”
The Crusaders, Highlanders and the Hurricanes will also unveil challenges ahead of their matches against the British & Irish Lions, while the Chiefs will perform a haka initially created specifically for them prior to the 2012 Super Rugby final and seen most recently when they took on Wales in 2016.
The Chiefs worked with Huntly’s Ora Kihi from the cultural group from Te Wharekura O Rakaumanga to come up with a haka that embodied the team’s values and ideals.
Head Coach Dave Rennie said the match against the Lions on 20 June would be unique for the team and an appropriate occasion to perform their haka before the match.
“Our haka is personal to us. It’s about our people and reserved for special occasions. It’s a great honour to share a bit of our culture with the British & Irish Lions.”
New Zealand Rugby General Manager of the DHL New Zealand Lions Series Nigel Cass said the team challenges ahead of all matches would add a wonderful dimension to the Series.
“All credit to the Lions for embracing the opportunity to face a haka before kick-off. For Super Rugby teams, this represents something they currently are not able to do before a regular competition match. It will be a very special experience for the fans at the matches, adding another great dimension to a very special Series.”