Christchurch terrorist attack sees Highlanders-Crusaders match cancelled
SANZAAR confirms the match will be declared a draw
Last Updated: 16/03/19 8:03am
The Super Rugby match between the Otago Highlanders and Canterbury Crusaders scheduled for Saturday has been cancelled after the terrorist attack on two mosques in Christchurch on Friday killed 49 people.
New Zealand Rugby said the decision to cancel the match in Dunedin, some 360 kilometres south of Christchurch, had been made after consultation with both teams, police and local authorities.
The nine-times Super Rugby champions Crusaders are based in Christchurch.
New Zealand Rugby's Nigel Cass said: "Advice from police and venue management was that the fixture could go ahead, however, with strong agreement from both teams we have made the final call not to proceed as a mark of respect for the events that have occurred in Christchurch."
Police said 41 people were killed at the Al Noor mosque, while seven others died at the Linwood mosque. One further person later died in hospital.
Crusaders chief executive Colin Mainsbridge said: "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 chief Roger Clark said while the South Island derby was the most high-profile of their regular season home games, the decision was correct.
"This is always the biggest fixture on our match calendar and one which our fans look forward to," said Clark, who would have been expecting a crowd of some 20,000.
"But when we think about the massive loss of life and absolute devastation that has been wreaked on people in Christchurch, we feel this is the right decision."
The third cricket Test between New Zealand and Bangladesh, scheduled to begin in Christchurch on Saturday, was also called off on Friday after the attack.
Members of the Bangladesh team narrowly avoided being caught up in the shooting at the Al Noor mosque when they arrived for Friday prayers.
Super Rugby operators SANZAAR said: "In the event of a match cancellation due to force majeure, the match will be officially declared a draw and both teams will receive two competition points."