More than 10,000 people attended a National Rugby League match between Manly and the New Zealand Warriors on Saturday in the first major sports event which Christchurch has hosted since the March 15 shootings at two mosques left 50 dead.
The game was scheduled as a home match for the Sydney-based Manly Sea Eagles before the shootings which rocked usually peaceful New Zealand. On Saturday it became another rallying point for a healing community.
A moment’s silence was observed for victims of the shooting during which players and match officials huddled in the center of Christchurch Stadium. The teams wore jerseys emblazoned with the hashtag (hash)theyareus, referencing a statement made by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern immediately after the shootings.
Ardern said Muslims who were targeted in the shootings are an intrinsic part of New Zealand society.
Warriors chief executive Cameron George said the Warriors would wear the hashtag for the remainder of the 2019 season.
“Like everyone, we were devastated with what happened a fortnight ago and we wanted to come up with a way to honor those who lost their lives,” George said, with the club “determined to do something lasting and meaningful.”
Manly won the match 46-12.