Tokyo (AFP) - A World Rugby video trumpeting England's response to the New Zealand haka in their World Cup semi-final has earned millions of views online, putting the governing body in an awkward spot should it decide to censure the English team.
Before their stunning 19-7 win in Yokohama last Saturday that ended the All Blacks' eight-year reign as world champions, England lined up in a V formation to counter New Zealand's traditional Maori challenge.
In 2011 France formed an arrow head shape and advanced on New Zealand while they performed the haka before the World Cup final in Auckland and were subsequently fined £2,500 (S$4,370) for breaching a "cultural ritual protocol".
However, despite speculation about a possible fine, as of Tuesday no disciplinary action had been taken against England, with a clip on World Rugby's official YouTube channel captioned "England's incredible response to intense New Zealand haka" having received nearly 3.7 million views.
It is understood the protocol states opponents must not cross the halfway line but at the two tips of England's V formation, six players - Joe Marler, Billy Vunipola, Mark Wilson, Elliot Daly, Luke Cowan-Dickie and Ben Youngs - appeared to be standing in New Zealand's half.
Match officials could be seen urging England players to return to their own half before appearing to be sufficiently content with their positions to let them stay where they were.
"(Joe Marler) said he got confused," explained fellow England prop Mako Vunipola.
"He thought he was supposed to go all the way around it and go to their 10 (metre line).
"But because of that, he's the one who has to pay the fine. He dishes it out a lot so the boys would be more than happy if he has to pay it." After the match, England players revealed coach Eddie Jones had been behind the unusual way they lined up, with captain Owen Farrell, seen smiling during the haka, saying: "We wanted not to just stand there and let them come at us." No comment was available from World Rugby about whether England will face disciplinary action.
England will bid to lift the Webb Ellis Cup for a second time when they return to Yokohama for this Saturday's final against two-time champions South Africa.