You can find incredible variety in traditions around the world. Some are for celebrating, while others are for mourning. Regardless, they add depth and meaning to significant moments in life.
That’s why a New Zealand rugby team’s performance was so moving. While the Maori All Blacks usually do a ceremonial haka before their games, this one was used to comfort their opposing team during a difficult time.
Munster’s head coach, Anthony Foley, suddenly passed away from a heart condition the day before their match in 2016. The loss was devastating to his family, players, and fans, so the All Blacks decided to do something special to honor Anthony.
They had the perfect method: their pre-game routine. Originally, the haka was a Maori war dance used on the battlefield to “display the tribe’s pride, strength, and unity.” Today, the dance can serve many purposes, including recognizing guests during celebrations — and showing solidarity for grieving rivals.
In a video of the powerful moment, we see that the teams are lined up to face each other. Just before the haka begins, the All Blacks present the Munster players with one of their own jerseys with Anthony’s initials printed on it. Then they do their touching performance.
When they finished, the All Blacks gave the unique jersey to Anthony’s two sons. Touched, his family posted on a Facebook tribute page, writing:
Anthony collected more jerseys in his career than you could shake a stick at. He loved each and every one of them and the stories he had about them. This one — collected in his honor by Tony and Dan on Friday night following a gesture by the Maori All Blacks that warmed our hearts in a way we could not describe — we are sure he would have it right up there among his favorites. Perhaps now his favorite. It was an incredible tribute and gesture by a great rugby people, a great people. We will never forget it and are so, so thankful.
What a beautiful way to honor people who are mourning. Our thoughts are with Anthony’s loved ones as they remember his loss.
Watch the beautiful tribute in the video below, and remember to share this story with your friends.
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