Following the heartbreak which has affected New Zealand and New Zealand Rugby, the Terror Attacks in Christchurch saw the Southern Derby – the Highlanders v Crusaders match was canceled on Saturday.
The attacks on two Mosques situated in Christchurch City has seen 49 innocent people lose their lives. SANZAAR and the Super Rugby organizers made the decision to cancel the Saturday night fixture, which was the right decision for fans and players alike.
Still in shock, after the barbaric act that has seen the World extend its sympathies, the ‘southern derby’ would usually take the full attention of the nation. But all the emotion and sadness was obvious. And New Zealand Rugby and SANZAAR took the option to ‘put people first’ ahead of a rugby match.
In a media release, NZR stated “the decision to cancel the match was made after urgent meetings today with both teams, venue management, police and community organizations involved in responses to yesterday’s terrorist attacks in Christchurch.
“After consulting widely with both teams and key stakeholders, New Zealand Rugby has decided to cancel this evening’s match.”
Terror Attacks in Christchurch sees Southern Derby canceled
The public; who are still in a state of shock, have been considered. The options were to either continue with the match and to include a minutes silence. That occurred at the Friday night fixture in Hamilton.
— Super Rugby (@SuperRugbyNZ) March 15, 2019
While that was a wonderfully respectful act from both teams, the Crusaders players will have been suffering. Their city had been attacked. Fellow citizens were brutally gunned down, and that left the players from both franchises in a fragile state.
Crusaders CEO Colin Mainsbridge said their entire club community was in a state of shock.
“Yesterday’s horrific attacks have left us all feeling stunned. All other issues and considerations pale in significance. We will now regroup and make arrangements for the team to return home as soon as possible to be back in their community and with their families.”
Highlanders CEO Roger Clark said they had considered ticketholders and fans, before making the decision. “This is always the biggest fixture on our match calendar and one which our fans look forward to, but when we think about the massive loss of life and absolute devastation that has been placed on the people in Christchurch, we feel this is the right decision.”
— New Zealand Rugby (@NZRugby) March 16, 2019
Mood of the Nation one of Empathy and Outrage
As a New Zealander, I feel heartbroken. While distant in geography, every New Zealander; living in the country or around the world, our sense of isolation from hate crimes has been broken. A single assailant has stolen the countries pride that we are a welcoming nation. His actions and the terror attacks in Christchurch are an affront to the values of New Zealand.
Refuges have, and will always be welcome to New Zealand. many immigrate from Islamic and Muslim states where violence against religious beliefs occurs regularly. In New Zealand, it is unheard of. So when 49 innocents are gunned down, the community reacts to make those immigrants feel even more welcomed.
The Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern visited Christchurch on Saturday. Flanked by members of Parliament, she visited with members of the Muslim community, Police and Security advisors. In reaching out, and at times embracing victims families, it showed that the public will is to show solidarity.
Wearing a Dopatta to show solidarity with the Muslim community and trying to heal their wounds by condemning the terrorist and meeting the bereaved Families
Jacinda Arden is winnin heart of millions ❤.
— اسد الرحمن (@AsadRehman_) March 16, 2019
For many, including this reporter, a game of rugby could have been as empowering. But the public security, and the raw emotions of the supporters and players of the Crusaders had to be put first. So close to the tragic event, canceling the game was the right thing to do.
Nobody could expect terror attacks in Christchurch. As nobody expected earthquakes and the loss of life in that natural event either. But this un-natural action is unprecedented. And it is unwarranted. The lone gunman will be dealt with by the justice system surely. But sadly, no justice will come for the men, women, and children gunned down.
That makes New Zealand less innocent. We now, unfortunately, stand alongside Manchester, New York and Cairo, in senseless acts of violence against the public. Not a place where any community; be it rugby or a religious group, should ever be placed.
Scott Hornell lives in Auckland, New Zealand.
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