- WSU coach Akhona Mgijima said their use of the haka was to pay a compliment to New Zealand’s All Blacks, whom they idolised.
- Hysteria sprung up again about WSU performing their own rendition of the Kapa o Pango haka before playing DUT Rhinos.
- Mgijima added that they also emulated how the All Blacks conducted themselves on and off the field.
Walter Sisulu University (WSU) head coach Akhona Mgijima says his side's use of the Maori haka pre-game was the biggest compliment they could pay New Zealand's All Blacks, whom his students idolise on and off the field.
Hysteria sprung up again about WSU 'All Blacks' performing their own rendition of New Zealand’s Kapa o Pango haka before they demolished DUT Rhinos 136-11 in their opening Varsity Shield game at Loftus on Monday.
The NZ Herald published an article detailing some social media reaction from Down Under, with some calling WSU's emulation an "insult".
Mgijima said the whole thing started after the All Blacks won back-to-back Rugby World Cup titles in 2015, something that inspired the students ahead of their 2017 Varsity Shield entry.
"It’s school kids, tertiary boys having fun and enjoying themselves," Mgijima said.
"We built the culture around the All Blacks. The WSU colours are black and when we entered the Varsity Shield, it was just after New Zealand won the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
"There was a lot of hype about New Zealand and it was nice to see. The players themselves brought it up, saying they want to do the haka as a celebratory thing and we allowed them.
"The player that started it, Yanga Wani, is nicknamed 'Beast' after Tendai Mtawarira, so we aren’t only looking up to New Zealanders.
"But the rugby brand we wanted to play and the type of players we have, it's modelled on New Zealand's.
"We cannot say we want to play a forwards-dominated game when we don't have the players for it. We have players that are mainly from rural homes, with very few coming from affluent schools.
"We have one or two from Dale College this season but none from Hudson Park or Selborne College and those well-known schools.
"These boys' physique and type of rugby they are used to suits running rugby. Hence we called ourselves the All Blacks."
Mgijima added that they took inspiration from the All Blacks not only from how they performed on the field but from their conduct and discipline off it.
"It's not only the rugby-playing culture that we idolise," he said.
"We identified a lot of things that the All Blacks do that we like to emulate like discipline, small things like leaving your changing room clean and being courteous to opponents off the field.
"We are paying the New Zealanders a compliment because we've seen their success and we've seen the things that have brought them success.
"By mimicking [Maori] culture, it shows that they are making a difference in the world in a way that they may not understand from where they're seated.
"We are amateurs looking up to professionals, but we wanted to build a team culture. Our players get so inspired and motivated before a game by doing the haka."