World Rugby has been accused of mixed messages after reportedly fining England for its counter to New Zealand's haka three days after trumpeting it as "incredible" on its official YouTube channel.
Before their stunning 19-7 win in Yokohama last Saturday that ended the All Blacks' eight-year reign as world champions, England lined up in a V formation to counter New Zealand's traditional Maori challenge.
A clip posted by World Rugby captioned "England's incredible response to intense New Zealand haka" has been viewed almost 4 million times, putting the governing body in an awkward spot after it reprimanded the semi-final winner and delivered a "four-figure sum".
The Guardian is reporting that England have been fined 'a four-figure sum', however it is less than the fine handed down to France for similar tactics ahead of the 2011 final. On that occasion, the French were fined $4,300.
The Guardian's report was met with fury in some corners.
Others took an opposite view. "I love the Haka. I loved England's response, equally. All teams are told not to cross the halfway line when responding. England were fined for crossing the halfway line. Simple as that," wrote Rugby World Magazine's Paul Williams.
England lined up in front of the traditional challenge in V formation and had to be told to retreat by officials when they moved too close to the All Blacks.
Mako Vunipola admitted that "we knew it would rile them up" while the captain, Owen Farrell, who could be seen smirking during the haka, said: "We wanted not to just stand there and let them come at us."
England breached a "cultural ritual protocol".
It is understood that the protocol states opponents must not cross the halfway line. At the two tips of England's V Joe Marler, Billy Vunipola, Mark Wilson, Elliot Daly, Luke Cowan‑Dickie and Ben Youngs all appeared to be standing in the All Blacks' half.
Speaking on the matter, Vunipola said it was more a matter of confusion.
"[Joe Marler] said he got confused," Mako Vunipola said. "He thought he was supposed to go all the way around it and go to their 10. But because of that, he's the one who has to pay the fine.
"He dishes it out a lot so the boys would be more than happy if he has to pay it."
It's not that big a hit for England as their players will share a jackpot of over £1.2 million (NZ$2.4 million) for reaching their first World Cup final since 2007.
It is believed Eddie Jones' men will receive the biggest single bonus payment for a test match.
It is understood the Rugby Football Union (RF) will pay out £41,298 to each member of Jones' 31-man squad – a total of £1.28 million.
The RFU pay-out is more than double what New Zealand's players would have earned.
- With news.com.au