30 Oct 2018

Kapa haka practice crucial for Black Ferns prep

4:13 pm on 30 October 2018

The Black Ferns hold regular haka waiata sessions maintaining their cultural practices are just as crucial as rugby training ahead of the inaugural test match against USA.

Black Ferns performing haka against USA in 2017 WRWC

Black Ferns performing haka against USA in 2017 WRWC Photo: Inpho / www.photosport.nz 2017

In a different country and environment it would be easy to focus solely on the game at hand and not the processes you are accustomed to at home - that's not the case for the Black Ferns in Chicago.

This weekend the Black Ferns will face the USA for the inaugural test match as part of a triple-header alongside the Māori All Blacks and team culture is just as strong here as it is in anywhere else in the world.

The team completed its first haka session today in their hotel room and veteran loose forward Aroha Savage says these cultural practises are used to remind them of why they wear the black jersey.

"We do so many things to keep ourselves grounded and make sure we remember where we come from," says Savage

"We don't only do Māori songs we do Samoan and Tongan songs to try integrate all cultures of the girls so that it's vibing, and its a happy place and environment to be in by remembering where we come from."

The haka performed before an international match is called 'Ko Uhia Mai' which translated means 'Let it be known' and was composed by Whetu Tipiwai.

Reciting the words and actions is only one requirement, the meaning that captures the essence of the Black Ferns environment is what is hoped to be remembered most especially by younger players joining the squad.

"The Black Ferns culture is very unique and upholding it for the years to come is one our priorities, there are a few new faces in our team and they are getting a kick up the bum when they need one to stay in line," says Savage

"We hold a high standard when it comes to our culture and our traditions and it's a weapon we have over any other country."

Team USA watching the Black Ferns haka at the 2017 WRWC semi-final

Team USA watching the Black Ferns haka at the 2017 WRWC semi-final Photo: Inpho / www.photosport.nz 2017

It's a challenge the Americans last witnessed at the 2017 Women's Rugby World Cup semi-final in Ireland before the Black Ferns defeated them 45 to 12 securing a spot against England in the final.

This time though New Zealand will stomp on foreign turf against a side they have never faced before. Team USA have recruited a new-look side for the match limiting the Black Ferns to only fine tune their own strategy.

"We have no idea what they are going to bring they have a new team and they haven't played a game this year."

"Their last game they played was in the world cup last year actually so we don't have much footage of them so we couldn't do much analysis on their game."

"We just have to focus more on our game and how we're going to attack the unknown."

The Black Ferns play USA at Soldier Field Chicago on Sunday morning at 6am NZT.