SARU voice support for NZ

2011-02-22 16:34

Johannesburg - The South African rugby community voiced support on Tuesday for its New Zealand counterpart affected by the earthquake that hit Christchurch.

The SA Rugby Union (SARU) said in a statement that its president Oregan Hoskins had written a letter to the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU), expressing condolences and offering solidarity.

"Our rugby community feels a special bond to New Zealand and what has happened in Christchurch has been deeply felt here," Hoskins wrote.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the affected families and with all New Zealanders, who have no doubt been traumatised by this terrible earthquake.

"Please be assured that SARU and the South African rugby community will assist the NZRU and the people of New Zealand in any way that we possibly can."

Hoskins said SARU would be guided by the NZRU and the International Rugby Board (IRB) on whether the tragedy would have any ramifications for rugby events.

Christchurch is one of the host cities of the Rugby World Cup in September and October this year.

The Crusaders team, based in Christchurch, are expected to host the Sharks in a Super Rugby match on March 25.

SARU and the IRB did not comment on the future of that fixture and others in the city this season.

Blue Bulls captain Victor Matfield said the Crusaders players and their families were in their thoughts.

"Our thoughts are going out to the people of New Zealand and the Crusaders in Christchurch who we play against so often," Matfield said.

"Hopefully they are fine and their families are fine and we would like to let them know that we are here to support them if there is anything they need in this difficult time.

"Hopefully, it is the last of the earthquakes before the World Cup."

The IRB said that rugby matters pertaining to Christchurch would be discussed formally only when rescue operations were complete.

"The thoughts and deepest sympathies of the global rugby family are with the people of Christchurch, their families and all New Zealanders at this very difficult time," the global governing body said in a statement.

"We feel it would be inappropriate to comment at this stage on the status of Rugby World Cup 2011 infrastructure or operations.

"The focus at this point must be on the emergency response."