While there was great anticipation for the season openers for each respective club this weekend, attention was drawn to a much more important cause on Friday. After a terrorist attack on two mosques in Christchurch killed 49 people, injured countless more and left a nation in mourning the NRL directed their attention to aiding the sister country during this horrible tragedy. No club is without a Kiwi in their team so the pain was felt strongly amongst every club.
As the details of the tragedy unfolded, messages of love and support flooded social media. Many of the NRL clubs sent a message of condolences on twitter while Todd Greenberg announced that a moment’s silence would be shared before the remaining games across the weekend.
As the days passed and games were played, you could not ignore the power of those minutes of silence as players stood with their arms around one another, some with messages of love for Christchurch written on their strapping. When play ended and the battle that took place on the field was over, players came together once again. Specifically noted after the Manly/Wests game where opposing players joined one another to pray together again, arm in arm.
The most affected team, as you can imagine, was the New Zealand Warriors who were rattled by the tragedy affecting their neighbouring city. Before kick off of their season opener, club CEO Cameron George announced that the remaining tickets for the game would be released for the New Zealand public free of charge.
“New Zealand is hurting. We are New Zealand’s team in the NRL and we want the public to join us this evening to acknowledge collectively those who have been affected by the heinous act in our country.”
Following this announcement, all tickets were taken and the game was played in front of a full stadium. A beautiful tribute to a beautiful country in mourning.
What proved to be more powerful, was the dominate performance that the Warriors - who were respectively wearing black armbands - put on in front of the crowd. A performance that you couldn’t help but feel was elevated specifically for the people of Christchurch.
The Warriors were not the only team who showed their support through black armbands in fact, a handful of teams did the same too. The Parramatta Eels, Newcastle Knights, Cronulla Sharks and Manly Warringah Sea Eagles also all sporting the black armbands in support.
In a final effort to show the continuous support for the people of Christchurch, beyond this weekend, the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles have shared their intentions to do more in the coming weeks. With their round 3 match against the New Zealand Warriors scheduled to take place at Christchurch Stadium the club has vowed to still play the game there and help as much as they can. They will arrive 3 days before kick off to assist the community following the attacks. Although no specific plans have been confirmed, the Sea Eagles CEO Lyall Gorman has confirmed that once the “dust has settled” and the community is given time to mourn, they will place plans in action for the weekend.
“We all hurt on Friday and we’re still hurting. We want to get over there and try to lift their spirits a little bit. We were always going over to do community work. That might change in its tone and texture now.”
“Des texted me at 9pm on Friday asking what we can do over there.”
“The footy teams will do the right thing over there and play some good footy. We’ll support a wonderful city and wonderful community.”
When tragedy unfortunately strikes, it warms the hearts of many to see the community stick together and show their support in anyway they can. I am proud to support a league such as the NRL who do all that they can to extend their love and support.
To the fans of Christchurch, we are with you. We all are with you. When you hurt, we hurt. We will get through this horrible tragedy together.
Photo credit: PhotosportNZ