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Hurricanes' players reflect on playing rugby on one of New Zealand's darkest days

By Online Editors
Players from the Chiefs and Hurricanes embrace at halfway for a minute's silence before kick-off. (Photo by Michael Bradley/Getty Images)

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The terrorist attack on Friday afternoon in Christchurch, described by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern as one of New Zealand’s ‘darkest days’, left the nation, and the world, in shock.


That night, the Super Rugby clash between the Hurricanes and Chiefs went ahead just hours after the attack. After the game, halfback TJ Perenara explained the insignificance at that moment of the result which was a 23-all draw.

“Regardless of how that result went, that wouldn’t have been the most important part of my day and I don’t think anyone in this circle or in this country would say that this was the most important thing today, and that comes from a very competitive person who would do pretty much anything to win,” he told the press.

“My mind was on the game when I was in the game, but today was bigger than rugby.”

The players, like many people in the world, are still trying to process the events of Friday. More Hurricanes’ players opened up at training on Tuesday to reflect on playing the game, which Barrett described as a tough game to play with thoughts still on the people involved in the tragedy.

“It’s pretty tough to have to play a game after that,” he said.

“Our thoughts are still with those families. It’s just such a tragedy, but it is positive to see everyone come together to find solutions so that these things never happen again.”

The Hurricanes held an impromptu team meeting hours before the kickoff at their hotel once the game was decided to go ahead. Fullback Chase Tiatia said he thought it was to tell them the game had been called off.

“Personally, I thought the game was going to get cancelled.

“We had an urgent team meeting 10 minutes before the bus was going to leave – I thought that was it, they’re going to cancel the game.

“It affected a lot of the boys’ prep heading into the game. It’s hard to prep for a rugby game when that stuff is going on in New Zealand. It’s quite scary and it threw a few of the boys off.”

“We just talked about what’s gone on,” Tiatia said.

“There was a lot of things going around on social media, so it was just saying not to read it or have a look at it, because you can never unsee it. And then it was just what we were going to do by paying our respects pre-game.”

The two teams decided to form a joint huddle for the moment of silence in a sign of unity to pay their respects. Hurricanes coach John Plumtree didn’t think many people were thinking about the game, with rugby becoming insignificant.

“I don’t think there were too many people in New Zealand who were thinking too much about the Chiefs-Hurricanes game,” Plumtree explained.

“It was such a tragic event that sport becomes insignificant when something like that happens, but I suppose if you switch the TV on or you came to the ground, you might’ve been able to forget about it for 80 minutes.”

Saturday’s Crusaders-Highlanders game in Dunedin was called off after consultations with both teams, venue management, police and community organisations.

All Black midfielder Sonny Bill Williams has pledged to help with community fundraising efforts in Christchurch this Friday and will miss the Blues clash with the Highlanders in Auckland.


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