The crowd at the Barbarians versus All Blacks XV game at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium were treated to that rarest of rare sights at international level: a haka versus a haka.
Both the All Blacks XV and four members of the Barbarians squad performed a simultaneous kamate against each other in front of 40,000-odd spectators at the football stadium.
Ihaia West, Luke Whitelock, Tawera Kerr-Barlow and George Bridge all performed the cultural challenge against their fellow countrymen in what was an appropriate piece of sporting theatre before the two sides got stuck into each other.
One of the most iconic sights and sounds in all of sport! ?
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The scene evoked memories of the All Blacks versus Munster match in Thomond Park in 2008, where Munster’s New Zealand contingent performed their own haka against the men in black. Rua Tipoki, Doug Howlett, Lifeimi Mafi and Jeremy Manning challenged their NZ counterparts in a dramatic pregame face-off.
In the end the Barbarians gained the up hand in the context, running out 35-31 winners in a tightly contested affair.
Former England No.8 Zach Mercer, who is Gloucester-bound next season, scored in an impressive display on home soil, possibly signalling his Test rugby aspirations to Eddie Jones, who was coaching his England side to a comfortable victory over Japan on the other side of London.
The All Blacks XV scored tries through Bryce Heem, Josh Dickson, Alex Nankivell, Shaun Stevenson, Bailyn Sullivan but it wasn’t enough to beat efforts of Lekima Tagitagivalu, Joe Marchant, Teddy Thomas, Rhys Webb and Mercer, who crossed the whitewash for the invitational side.
The side was coached by Scott Robertson and Ronan O’Gara, who have both thrown their names in the ring for the England top job when Jones vacates the role after the Rugby World Cup in France next year.
Scorers: Barbarians 35 (Zac Mercer, Lekima Tagitagivalu, Joe Marchant, Teddy Thomas, Rhys Webb ; Antoine Hastoy 4 con; Ihaia West con) All Blacks XV 31 (Bryce Heem, Josh Dickson, Alex Nankivell, Shaun Stevenson, Bailyn Sullivan tries; Damian McKenzie 3 con). HT: 21-17