Monday, 21 September 2009

WRU challenge fans to revisit spine-chilling 'Haka' moment

The Welsh Rugby Union is offering fans the chance to relive the historic and jaw-dropping prelude to Wales' Invesco Perpetual Series clash with New Zealand in November 2008, with the release of its new web-based competition, 'Patriotic Games'.

The online game has been launched to coincide with the imminent return of the All Blacks to the Millennium Stadium on Saturday 7th November 2009 and carries prizes for the best recorded scores including match tickets to the Argentina and Australia matches later in the Series.

Last year Warren Gatland's Wales responded to the opposition's traditional pre-kick off war dance or Haka with spine-chilling, uncompromising, stoicism and refused to be the first to back away and start the game, leading to a classic sporting moment set to live long in the memory of anyone who witnessed it.

The complete footage of one of the most impressive 'Mexican stand-offs' in sporting history, which lasts for a nerve-jangling three minutes and 35 seconds from start to finish, has been integrated into the new game which gives fans the opportunity to replace one of their favourite Wales stars and stare down opponents .

The game, which can be found at from Monday 21st September, utilises computer controls allowing the player to intimidate familiar-looking rugby characatures against a back drop which recreates all the atmosphere and drama of the intense pre-match encounter. Players aim to rack up enough points to get themselves on a leader board boasting an impressive array of Welsh rugby themed prizes.

"With the rugby watching world almost as keen to see if there is any pre-match response to the inevitable Haka at the All Blacks game - and the Samoan war dance the following week - as they are to see the ensuing top quality rugby action, we are expecting Patriotic Games to capture the public imagination," said a WRU spokesperson.

"Everyone in Wales remembers with great pride the moment when our players refused to allow New Zealand any perceived psychological advantage to be carried into the match, after they performed their impressive and entirely welcome war dance.

"It was certainly a moment of great drama for everyone in the Millennium Stadium that day as well as the millions watching on television and we were all very much aware that this moment was going to be brought up again, and again, as we prepare for the very latest visit of one of the world's greatest sides to Cardiff.

"Rather than playing down the moment ahead of New Zealand's return visit we thought the common sense view would be to embrace it for the true piece of sporting theatre that it was.

"Everyone involved can be proud of the atmosphere produced in those few minutes before kick-off last November and now fans can relive the moment and get a taste of what it might have been like to be in the eye of the storm by playing Patriotic Games."

Whilst it seemed the All Blacks were the first to back down last year the men in black went on to record a close fought victory, but this November they will face a Wales team in even more determined mood, with players showing impressive form on British and Irish Lions duty this summer as well as on tour to America and Canada.

And Wales face two 'war dances' in quick succession with Rugby World Cup 2011 pool opposition Samoa - a team Wales have yet to beat in the RWC after two attempts - in town just six days after New Zealand, for a Friday night fixture which is targeting a family audience and priced accordingly.

The 'Patriotic Games' leader board will be assessed in the last week of the Invesco Perpetual Series 09 with the first placed player receiving a family ticket to the competition climax, the clash with Australia on Saturday 28th November, along with a signed rugby shirt. The second placed player receives a signed rugby ball and for third place the prize is a year's free membership of the official WRU Supporters club with all the benefits that entails.

"Nobody knows what is going to happen this year at this stage and it may be that pre-match events go by without anyone batting an eyelid, last year will be tough to beat in terms of drama, but one way to trump it would be to record a victory over New Zealand for the first time since 1953 - that would probably do it!", added the spokesperson.

"In the meantime Patriotic Games represents a bit of fun which should get fans in the mood for all the action in what should be the best Invesco Perpetual Series to date.

"We have the utmost respect for New Zealand rugby, its players and its fans, and we hope the game can be enjoyed by rugby followers around the world regardless of their allegiance.

"It has proved to be quite addictive around the WRU offices already and carries a serious offer with it, with players able to get their hands on some priceless merchandise from the series and tickets to two of our biggest matches, against Argentina and Australia.

"Who knows what this year's clash with New Zealand will bring, but in the meantime we can use 'Patriotic Games' to help us recall the moment when the hairs simultaneously stood up on the backs of 74,500 necks in the Millennium Stadium and millions of television viewers outside it."


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