CROWDS gathered to watch an unusual spectacle outside Madrid’s Royal Palace on Monday as the Classic All Blacks performed a ‘haka’.
Feet stomping, thigh slapping and with tongues protruding, the players performed the ceremonial Maori dance at 12 noon in the Plaza Oriente on Madrid’s San Isidro bank holiday.
The ritual dance is traditionally performed by the New Zealand national team as a challenge to their rival team ahead of the start of a rugby match.
The Classic All Blacks, a team of former players from the New Zealand national side, will be playing Spain’s national team at an exhibition match at Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitan stadium on Saturday May, 21.
Members of the Spain’s national team, who are known as Los Leones (The Lions), were at the event organised by Kiwi House on Monday aalong with Madrid mayor Jose Luis Martinez Almeida, and the deputy mayor Begoña Villacís.
Corey Flynn, 41, the captain of the Classic All Blacks who made his international debut for the national team in the 2003 Rugby World Cup, said he hoped the friendly match with Spain would ‘become an annual tradition’.
Among the crowd were Kiwi residents of Madrid as well as fans of rugby, which is a sport growing in popularity in Spain.
“It’s wonderful to see such legends in the flesh,” said Patricia, who plays for a women’s rugby team in Spain. “I can’t quite believe just how big they are!”
Unfortunately, Spain has been thrown out of the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France after fielding an ineligible player in two qualifying matches.
The decision was made by an independent judicial committee.
Spain secured a World Cup place for the first time since 1999 with a 33-28 victory over Portugal in March to finish second in the Rugby Europe Championship.