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New Zealand honoured an Irish rugby legend with an incredible pre-game Haka

SB NationSB Nation 12/11/2016 James Dator
© Provided by SB Nation

The New Zealand All Blacks took a moment before their exhibition game against Irish side Munster to make an incredible gesture towards a legend. Anthony Foley was more than a coach, he was an institution. He spent 13 years playing for Munster and Ireland, including representing his country in the Rugby World Cup in 2003. When his playing career ended he never stopped being involved in rugby, and flawlessly transitioned to become Munster’s coach.

Foley was a part of the fabric of the team. Its former hero, who seemingly would be with them forever. In October he was traveling with the team in France when he died in his sleep at the age of 42. The cause was an acute pulmonary oedema, caused by diagnosed heart disease.

The team, and nation was in shock. When Ireland played New Zealand in Chicago the Irish side honored him, and when the All Blacks went to play Munster they ensured Foley’s memory lived on by honoring him with a jersey and a special Haka.

The traditional Maori pre-game war dance is synonymous with New Zealand rugby. It’s not just about honoring native peoples and intimidating an opponent, Hakas are also used to honor warriors who have died. This was no ordinary Haka, and the crowd in attendance knew it — showing the New Zealand side with cheers and clapping while Munster players fought to hold back tears.

It was a beautiful moment that reminds us that sports are more than what happens on the field.


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