Simon Borchardt

John Allan's Rugby Tales: The haka and Humpty Dumpty

Former Sharks, Scotland and Springbok hooker JOHN ALLAN recalls some classic banter between Sean Fitzpatrick and John Eales, as well as Scotland's unique version of the haka.

After an event in New Zealand at the start of the 2011 World Cup, I was in a taxi with former All Blacks captain Sean Fitzpatrick and ex-Wallabies skipper John Eales.

Now, Fitzy always gave his best on the field for the All Blacks, while getting the referee on his side and antagonising his opponents. Eales is the exact opposite; he treats everyone like he would treat his granny.

Anyway, as we were driving past the Auckland harbour we saw a big ship, full of sheep. Fitzy turned to Eales and asked him what he thought the ship was for. Eales said it was obviously a ship for transporting sheep.

'No, that's an Aussie whore house!' Fitzy chirped. 'I know you Aussies, you act like Scots, by wearing kilts. You tuck a sheep into your wellies [gum boots] and take it to the edge of a cliff, so it has to push back!'

Eales hit back with a classic. He said, 'Fitzy, why do seagulls fly upside down over New Zealand?'

Fitzy said he didn't know.

'Even seagulls won't waste their s**t on New Zealand!' said Eales.

Eales had another joke lined up, which he said was about aborigines and the Martians, who landed in the Australian outback.

The aborigines were playing music on their didgeridoos, which fascinated the Martians. The Martians decided they wanted to test the intelligence of human beings so they zapped them and took away a quarter of their brains. The aborigines continued playing on their didgeridoos.

The Martians removed another quarter of their brains and then another, and they continued playing their didgeridoos.

Eventually, said Eales, the Martians decided to remove all of their brains. The aborigines then stood up and started chanting, 'Ka mate, ka mate! Ka ora! Ka ora!'

Even Fitzy, who loves the haka, had to laugh!

On that note, I made my Test debut for Scotland against the All Blacks in Dunedin in 1990 and had to face the haka for the first time.

When I saw how intense it was I could understand why the All Blacks got so psyched up before a game. And, I must be honest, I sh*t myself a bit!

Afterwards, I asked Scotland vice-captain Gavin Hastings how he thought I should deal with the haka. He suggested singing 'Humpty Dumpty'.

When I said I didn't understand what he meant, he starting chanting, 'Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall' instead of 'Ka mate, ka mate! Ka ora! Ka ora!' but in rhythm to the haka.

When I faced the haka before the second Test, I sang 'Humpty Dumpty' to myself and you'll be amazed how that took the edge off the haka!

Before the third Test, Fitzy took some of us to his local rugby club. After the people there had sung songs for us, Gavin told them we were going to do our version of the haka for them.

We did a big pre-haka buildup and then started chanting 'Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall' in rhythm to the original haka, by which time I was looking for the closest exit! There must have been about 400 people and I thought if they took offence and starting attacking us, I was out of there!

There was stunned silence while we did it, but fortunately they all packed up laughing afterwards!

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A prop with a glass eye
The Terrible Trio
Tricky Dickie strikes thrice
Giving Fitzy a Glasgow kiss
Taming the giants
Wright's triple ticket trick
Paragliding prevents Sharks' pain
Aussie seagulls spy on Boks
Bullet's sheepish breakfast