Lili Auriat 07:00, September 26, 2023

In 2007, in the quarter-finals of the World Cup, France faced New Zealand. When the All Blacks launch their mythical "Haka", this ritual threatening their opponents, the Blues face. Wearing the colours of the France, they rise to the challenge. Fabien Pelous tells how in "Les Géants du rugby", an original podcast produced by Europe 1 Studio.

In 2007, the French forward Serge Betsen convened a council of wise men among the players of the XV of France. The objective of this meeting is simple, in appearance: we must find an idea to stand up to their opponents on the day of the France-New Zealand meeting, in the quarter-finals of the World Cup, when they will make their famous "Haka". The "Haka" is this Maori dance that participates in the myth surrounding New Zealand All Blacks.

This ritual, used to impress their opponents, leaves no one indifferent, whether in the stands or on the stadium tells us Fabien Pelous, in the podcast "Les Géants du rugby". The Blacks are then galvanized by this dance which ends with a tongue drawn as a sign of defiance. They appear in a trance, disfigured by grimaces and their looks are terrifying. Opposite, the players of the other teams wait and endure this "Haka", with as much pride as possible...

A tricolor "counter-Haka"

This is why, at each competition, in the Blues, the question arises: what to do during the "Haka"? What can be done, while respecting this tradition, to meet the challenge thrown at them, or even to send it back? An idea emerges without delay... Before the match, the France XV donned blue, white and red jerseys. "We manage as best we can, even if we are rugby players to put ourselves in order," laughs Fabien Pelous, "and we face them".

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Then, the Blues advance towards them as the New Zealand team begins its legendary ritual. The scene is impressive: the Blacks finish the "Haka" and stick their tongues out barely 20 centimeters from the face of the French! With 118 caps and three World Cups, Fabien Pelous has seen "Hakas", "but the moment of pride I felt at that moment, I had never felt it".

That day, "we launch the challenge," recalls Fabien Pelous. The provocative French sent a clear message: "You are certainly the best players in the world, but to beat us today, we will have to walk on our colours," said Pelous, "and we are not at all ready to let him do it." Will the XV of France be able to take on the challenge launched for this quarter-final to the end? This is what Fabien Pelous tells in "Les Géants du rugby", an original podcast produced by Europe 1 Studio.

> Listen to Fabien Pelous' story in full by clicking here