England fined for haka encroachment against All Blacks

TOKYO -- England have received a fine for encroaching on the haka during last Saturday's Rugby World Cup semifinal against New Zealand.

The World Rugby regulations state England breached tournament rules "relating to cultural challenges, which states that no players from the team receiving the challenge may advance beyond the halfway line", a spokesperson from World Rugby said.

The rules are applied across the international game and are not unique to the World Cup.

England adopted a v-shaped formation when New Zealand lined up for their pre-match haka with six players at one stage advancing beyond the halfway mark. England went on to beat the All Blacks 19-7 to tee up Saturday's World Cup final against South Africa.

It is understood England have received a four-figure fine of £2,000, which is £500 less than what France were fined in 2011 after all of their players advanced beyond the halfway line to face the haka.

England's decision to challenge the haka in the manner they did was hailed on World Rugby's official YouTube channel as an "incredible response to the intense New Zealand haka".

The idea to challenge the haka came from Eddie Jones, according to Mako Vunipola, while Kieran Read, the All Blacks captain, said "it had no impact on the game".

"We talked about it as a team but everything has to get past the boss," Vunipola said after England's 19-7 victory. "He gave us the idea. We wanted to be respectful but we wanted to also 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 in the past 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."

A World Rugby spokesperson added: "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."