Canterbury Crusaders stars call for focus to be on grieving in aftermath of terror attacks

The name of the famous rugby club has long been a subject for debate in Christchurch. (AFP)
Updated 19 March 2019
0

Canterbury Crusaders stars call for focus to be on grieving in aftermath of terror attacks

  • Sam Whitelock and Kieran Read say they are focusing on helping the Muslim and wider community grieve after the shocking terrorist attacks on Friday.
  • Club say that are open to changing their name.

LONDON: Canterbury Crusaders stars Sam Whitelock and Kieran Read have called for the immediate focus following the Christchurch mosque massacres to remain on the grieving Muslim community and not be sidetracked by their team’s controversial name.
The senior players said debate about a possible name change for the Christchurch-based Super Rugby club could take place later.
“I think at the moment this is much bigger than rugby,” Whitelock said in a video issued by the Crusaders.
“We are just trying to make sure we take the appropriate time and make sure we are respectful and those decisions will happen in time.”
The name Crusaders is associated with wars waged by Christians against Muslims in the Middle East in the 11th to 13th centuries.
Before the rugby club’s home games chainmail-draped horsemen, wielding swords, circle the playing field.
Fifty Muslim worshippers were shot dead at two Christchurch mosques last Friday in sickening terrorist attack. The accused gunman, a self-avowed white supremacist, walked into the Masjid Al-Noor Mosque in Christchurch and opened fire with a semi-automatic gun. He livestreamed the attack. A second shooting took place not long after at another mosque in the city.
Twenty-eight-year-old Brenton Tarrant — who has traveled to Europe and visited crusader sites — has been charged with murder after the attacks. He was found to be using weapons bearing distinctive writing including the names of historical figures from the Crusades during the massacre.
New Zealand’s Minister for Sport Grant Robertson has said he supports any discussions around a potential name change for the Crusaders in the wake of the shootings and “clearly this is a big issue for Canterbury.”
Read, who is also the All Blacks captain, said the Muslim community was hurting and the conversation needed to be on what could be done to help them.
“It’s hard to fathom what they’re going through. For us to support them the best we can is important,” he said. “Our strength lies in our diversity and while acts such as this are orchestrated in an attempt to divide us, love and unity will always prevail.”
Crusaders coach Scott Robertson said that when the time is right they will talk to the Muslim community about the name and “get the information we need to make a great decision and do the right thing.”
Meanwhile Kiwi rugby legend Robbie Deans has added his voice to others expressing shock and dismay over the terror attacks.
“You just never thought that it could happen in our community,” the former Crusaders and Australia coach said.
“It will have changed not only Canterbury but New Zealand forever. “It’s shattered an innocence, if you like, within the community. It’s irrational. Which makes it all the more difficult to deal with.
“It will change the place forever. It will change the community, it will change attitudes. But it will also harden the resolve.”


Alex McLeish sacked as Scotland manager

Updated 18 April 2019
0

Alex McLeish sacked as Scotland manager

  • McLeish was hired in February last year and led Scotland to the top of their Nations League group, securing the safety net of a playoff should they fail to qualify automatically for the Euros next year
  • However, qualifying got off to the worst possible start in Kazakhstan and an unconvincing 2-0 victory over San Marino three days later did little to further McLeish’s case to be kept on

LONDON: Alex McLeish’s second term as Scotland manager ended on Thursday as he was sacked following a humiliating 3-0 defeat to Kazakhstan to begin their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign last month.
“Ultimately, the performances and results as a whole in the past year — and, in particular, the manner of the defeat in Kazakhstan — did not indicate the progress expected with a squad we believe to be capable of achieving more,” Ian Maxwell, the Scottish FA’s chief executive, said in a statement.
McLeish was hired in February last year and led Scotland to the top of their Nations League group, securing the safety net of a playoff should they fail to qualify automatically for the Euros next year from a group containing Belgium and Russia.
However, qualifying got off to the worst possible start in Kazakhstan and an unconvincing 2-0 victory over San Marino three days later did little to further McLeish’s case to be kept on.
Scotland have not qualified for a major tournament since 1998, but Hampden will host four matches at Euro 2020 and the SFA are hoping to reinvigorate the qualifying campaign under new management.
“We firmly believe we have the potential to recover from the opening group defeat and unlock the potential of this exciting squad of players for the remainder of the campaign, safe in the knowledge we also have the play-offs as an additional route to UEFA Euro 2020,” added Maxwell.
McLeish led Scotland to the brink of qualifying for Euro 2008 in his first spell in charge, missing out in the final qualifier at home to Italy before leaving for Birmingham.
His second stint managing the national team lasted just 12 games, winning five and losing seven.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to have managed my country for a second time and leave knowing that I gave my all in the pursuit of success,” said McLeish.
“I am proud that together we finished top of our UEFA Nations League group and qualified for the UEFA EURO 2020 play-offs, which gives us a real opportunity to reach a major tournament for the first time in over 20 years.”
The pressure is now on the SFA to make an appointment in time for Scotland’s next Euro qualifiers at home to Cyprus and away to Belgium in June.