WELLINGTON (Reuters) – A series of high profile sporting events was canceled on Saturday in New Zealand while a traumatized country began burying the dead of the worst mass massacre of its history in peacetime .
Members of the Bangladesh Cricket Team arrive in Bangladesh for the Christchurch International Airport, New Zealand, on March 16, 2019, in this still image from a media video obtained. social. Bangladesh Cricket Commission / via REUTERS
A single gunman killed 49 people and wounded more than 20 in two mosques in Christchurch on Friday in a shooting that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern condemned as "a terrorist attack".
While a National Rugby League match was played in Auckland on Saturday, a horse racing meeting, a first class rugby match, a cricket test and a series of netball games were all dropped from program as a result of the attack.
"It's not cricket," said David White, general manager of New Zealand cricket, during a discussion about cancellations in his sport.
"It's something much bigger and much more important than that. It's a matter of life, respect. It's a question of family and community.
"Cricket and sport are secondary to personal well-being."
The third cricket test between New Zealand and Bangladesh, whose team was in a bus approaching one of the mosques with the current attack, was canceled on Friday.
The test was scheduled to begin Saturday at Hagley Oval in Christchurch, but the Bangladeshi team left New Zealand less than 24 hours after the shooting and about an hour after the scheduled start.
The Dunedin rugby match between the Otago Highlanders and the Canterbury Crusaders, based in Christchurch, was canceled on Saturday out of respect for the victims and their families.
The Canterbury cricket team, one of the six first-class teams at the New Zealand Plunket Shield National Championship, also chose not to play their final round match in Wellington, which handed the title to the Central Districts .
Canterbury was the only mathematical team with a mathematical chance to catch up with the central districts in the last round of matches, but their decision not to travel to Wellington for a match starting Sunday gave the winners last year.
Executive Director Jeremy Curwin said Canterbury Cricket had consulted the players, who had the opportunity to decide to play the final game individually or collectively.
"The team has shown a united front in terms of decision," Curwin said in a statement.
"It's clear that this tragedy will affect people in many ways, and Canterbury Cricket is here to support our players in every possible way.
"We fully respect their decision and I am incredibly proud of the way they have behaved throughout this process."
New Zealand internationals Martin Guptill and Lockie Ferguson, who play first class cricket for Auckland, have also pulled out of their team's match against Otago in Dunedin.
"Martin and Lockie both felt uncomfortable traveling to Dunedin given the events in Christchurch and the feelings and concerns of their partners and families," said Simon Insley, top responsible for Auckland.
"We understand that in times like this, families come first."
While the Dunedin Super Rugby match was canceled, the Waikato Chiefs and Wellington Hurricanes played a 23-23 draw in Hamilton, North Island, on Friday night.
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All Blacks and Hurricanes scrum half TJ Perenara, however, admitted that the spirit of the players was also elsewhere.
"Today, it was more than rugby," Perenara told reporters.
"No matter what, it would not have been the most important part of my day. I do not think anyone in this country would say that rugby is the most important thing. "
Reportage of Greg Stutchbury; Edited by Amlan Chakraborty / Nick Mulvenney