SANZAR rugby nations New Zealand, South Africa and Australia stand behind the Crusaders and their decision to withdraw from the round two match against the Hurricanes in Wellington on Saturday 26 February.
Crusaders Chief Executive Hamish Riach said the decision not to travel to Wellington this weekend, was reached following discussions between the Crusaders coaches, senior players and Crusaders’ Board.
“After all that has happened here in Christchurch and with so many lives affected by this event, we have decided it would not be appropriate to play a game of rugby against the Hurricanes on Saturday. Our thoughts are with our families, friends and wider Crusaders’ community and rugby is not a priority at the moment.
“All of the Crusaders players, team management, staff and board members have been directly affected by this terrible tragedy and it’s our desire to stay here and support our families and community at this time,” Riach said.
Peters said that the decision had the full backing of all three SANZAR countries.
“This decision had to be steered by the Crusaders Board, management and team. Our thoughts are very much with all of those affected by the earthquake,” Peters said.
NZRU Chief Executive Steve Tew said that New Zealand rugby stood firmly behind the Crusaders and the Canterbury rugby region.
“New Zealand is dealing with an enormous human tragedy and our sympathies and thoughts are very much with the people of Christchurch at this time. We will continue to work to see how we can best support our friends and colleagues in the Crusaders and the Canterbury community over the coming weeks and months,” Tew said.
Hurricanes Chairman Paul Collins said: “We fully support the Crusaders’ decision not to play this fixture and we wish to extend our sympathies to everyone who has been affected by this tragedy. Our focus now will be on finding ways in which the Hurricanes franchise can support the people of Christchurch through this terrible time. Obviously there are a number of logistical issues we have to work through with our commercial partners, members and supporters who were planning to come to the game on Saturday and we will be working hard to resolve these as soon as possible.”
Peters said that SANZAR executive committee involving all three countries had agreed to declare the Hurricanes v Crusaders match a draw and the competition points would be shared evenly between the two franchises (two points each), as consistent with similar situations in other international tournaments. Both franchises had been consulted and were in agreement with this decision.