Wednesday February 23, 2011 Source: AAP / NZPA
The Crusaders have decided to withdraw from their Super Rugby match against the Hurricanes in Wellington on Saturday following the devastating earthquake in Christchurch. SANZAR rugby nations New Zealand, South Africa and Australia have all backed the move.
Crusaders chief executive Hamish Riach said the decision not to travel to Wellington was reached following discussions between the Crusaders' coaches, senior players and their board.
The SANZAR executive committee said the match will be declared a draw, with the two franchises getting two points each, consistent with similar situations in other international tournaments.
"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," Riach said.
"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."
SANZAR chief executive Greg Peters said his organisation left the decision entirely with the Crusaders.
"This decision had to be steered by the Crusaders' Board, management and team," he said.
"Our thoughts are very much with all of those affected by the earthquake."
NZRU Chief Executive Steve Tew said that New Zealand rugby stood firmly behind the Crusaders and the Canterbury rugby region, a sentiment backed by Hurricanes chairman Paul Collins.
"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," he said.
"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."
Earlier, All Blacks and Hurricanes prop Neemia Tialata said via Twitter that the game should be postponed and players instead be involved in the massive clean up operation.
The tight scheduling of the inaugural 15-team competition ensured it was unlikely an alternative date could be factored in.
Damage to the playing surface at AMI Stadium - it has been badly affected by quake-related liquefaction - has also cast doubt over the Crusaders ability to host matches at their home ground, starting with next weekend's visit by the New South Wales Waratahs.
Ironically, the game against the Waratahs has been dedicated as a remembrance match for the Pike River mining disaster, with the Crusaders set to wear West Coast jerseys.
Christchurch is due to host seven matches during the World Cup from September 9-October 23, including two quarterfinals.