New Zealand’s Sky Super Rugby Aotearoa teams will embrace the Anzac spirit during this weekend’s round of matches as they acknowledge all service men and women across the country, and have reached out to their Australian counterparts over social media in a show of Trans-Tasman unity.
The two Round 9 matches between the Chiefs and Hurricanes in Hamilton on Friday night and the Crusaders and Blues in Christchurch on Sunday afternoon will feature the traditional reading of The Ode (in Te Reo and English), playing of the Last Post, a moment’s silence, and The Reveille.
Hurricanes captain Dane Coles will wear a poppy on the front of his playing jersey in Hamilton and was among a group of Sky Super Rugby Aotearoa players who took time to send a message to their Anzac peers.
Crusaders captain Scott Barrett and fullback Will Jordan, Highlanders duo Ngatungane Punivai and Michael Collins, Blues backs Zarn Sullivan, Tanielu Tele’a and Josiah Maruku, and Chiefs trio Mitch Jacobson, Chase Tiatia and Ayden Johnstone sent their best wishes across the Tasman.
Brumbies halfback Nic White, Melbourne Rebels first-five Matt Toomua and Waratahs skipper Jake Gordon were among the Super Rugby AU players to respond.
With the travel bubble between New Zealand and Australia now open, teams from both countries will come together next month to contest Sky Super Rugby Trans-Tasman, where they will be rivals on the field but still bound by the Anzac spirit outside the white lines.
The Highlanders kicked off Anzac commemoration activities last Friday with a with poppy collection for Royal New Zealand Returned and Services’ Association’s (RNZRSA) Poppy Appeal at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin and will use their bye weekend to attend the dawn service in Dunedin on Sunday morning.
New Zealand Rugby (NZR) General Manager of Professional Rugby & High-Performance Chris Lendrum said it was important for rugby to acknowledge the sacrifice of the Anzacs as well as current service men and women who play a role in making our communities safe.
“Although the years pass, we never forget the 13 All Blacks and 150 First Class rugby players who made the ultimate sacrifice and it means a lot for our players to have the chance to honour and remember them every year.
“This year COVID-19 has provided a reminder of how precious our freedoms are and the importance of those who serve and sacrifice for our communities on a daily basis. It’s worth pausing to acknowledge these current heroes as well as those passed.”
RNZRSA National President BJ Clark welcomed rugby’s annual tribute and support for the RSA and veterans.
“It’s always great to see New Zealand Rugby and the Super Rugby clubs embrace the Anzac spirit and to see the players reach out across the Tasman is what it’s all about.
“Rugby gives us another avenue to pause, remember and honour the men and women who served their countries in the past, but also acknowledge those NZDF personnel and their families who continue to uphold that legacy of service in society today.”