I’M sure if I’d been watching England’s rugby team face-off the All Blacks haka this week at any other time other than the present, the sight of the captain’s smirk and hands on hips defiance would have passed me by. But there was something about it – and I’m not exactly sure what it was – that made the blood run a bit cooler than usual.

Was it that the response, apparently pre-planned with one-upmanship at its heart, felt disrespectful to this ancient ritual? Maybe it’s because I love a good haka, and everything it stands for. The fact that it is a part of indigenous Maori culture which has been embraced by all races in New Zealand, makes it a special and unique tradition to be celebrated and admired.

Recently, when a friend’s 22-year-old son was leaving a New Zealand school after coaching rugby there for a year, I confess to shedding a wee tear as she showed me video of the hundred or so multiracial students performing the haka as a mark of respect for their coach.

It is moving and fierce, powerful and evocative, hypnotic and surprising all at the same time. It’s an ancient tradition that has survived the inexorable push towards the homogeneity of Hollywood culture. For that, I think, it deserves a little respect, not smirking, rule-breaking or attempts to drown it out with renditions of “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”.

Of course, there’s an argument to say that the aim was not to disrespect. I mean, we all make mistakes when it comes to others’ culture, rituals and customs, when we simply don’t know what is expected of us. ‘It’s no biggie’ as my kids would say.

I have a litany of experience of this. One episode stands out. A few years ago, a Muslim cousin of mine got married to a Sikh. Although the families originated from within 10 miles of one another on the Indian subcontinent, neither had read the non-existent copy of A Very Handy Guide to Wedding Rituals.

The result was a stand-off outside a Scottish country house on the one baking hot day of 2010, that lasted for a painful 25 minutes, as neither side knew what they should do: a standoff so scary, it put the Soviet/American standoff at Checkpoint Charlie in 1961 to shame. We just had no idea what each other's rituals were - do we shake hands, exchange gifts, we had garlands but who was to put it on whom?

And it seems I’m not alone in my experience of faux pas when it comes to rituals. A Jewish friend recently told me of a function at a synagogue where the different types of food on the table were carefully chosen to signify certain elements of the past. A soft and gooey food called Charoset signified the cement used by the Jewish slaves in building, and bowls of salted water signified the tears and sweat of those slaves. Just as one man was about to drink the much respected salted water, a non Jewish visitor plunged his hands into the bowl, and started vigorously washing them. (I’m telling you this now, so no excuses in the future!)

Maybe it’s the disregard for the rules by the team that’s ripping my knitting. Few, and certainly it seems, not even the All Blacks themselves, argue that a response to the haka is not acceptable, but it’s the disregard for authority, the we-know-better than officialdom, which smacks of something more potentially worrying.

World Rugby Regulations insist that opponents must stay in their half when the haka is being performed. Some of the England team entered the other half, but yet even with officials shouting at them to get back, they continued to do so. Their fans lapped it up - England won, so perhaps the means justified the glorious end.

But is that really a justification for breaking the rules? Most of us teach our kids to obey the rules - at home, in school, on the sports field. It’s part of growing up - being aware of a kind of social contract between us all in gameplay.

Elite sportsmen and women are role models for millions of young people and children and to keep sport respected in this way the governing bodies have to formulate rules which can’t be seen to be ignored. By flouting the rules, and the subsequent validation of the rule-breaking by fans and pundits alike afterwards, did the English team tap into a zeitgeisty thing we’re seeing a lot more of at the moment? £2000 is thought to be the cost to the team - an insignificant loss for making their ‘V’ shaped point.

So yes, although stuff happens, the response of the England team was no mistake. It was pre-meditated and for me, showed a lack of respect to the ancient tradition. But hey! What do I know? I’m just a woman still traumatised by being in a face-off nine years ago between 15 Glaswegian Muslims and 23 Sikhs from Gravesend.

Now, if one, or both sides had started doing the haka - that would have been interesting.