Some things are bigger than the game.

It's a statement often spouted from the mouths of elite athletes, and on Friday night in Hamilton it was one that rang true with all of New Zealand.

The news that at least 49 people lost their lives in a mass shooting in Christchurch rocked the country to its core and, after the Hurricanes' draw with the Chiefs, halfback TJ Perenara put the match in perspective.

"Regardless of how that result went, that wouldn't have been the most important part of my day and I don't think anyone in this circle or in this country would say that this was the most important thing today, and that comes from a very competitive person who would do pretty much anything to win," Perenara told media after the match.

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"My mind was on the game when I was in the game, but today was bigger than rugby."

To many south of the Bombay Hills, the rivalry between the Chiefs and Hurricanes has become one of the most exciting on the calendar. But rivalries were cast aside at the beginning of the match as the two sides gathered in a huddle to observe a moment of silence to reflect on the events in Christchurch.

While such tributes are generally accompanied by sporadic chatter in the stands, when the MC made the announcement the 12,000-strong crowd fell silent, and remained so until the MC piped up again.

What ensued on the pitch was a fan-friendly arm wrestle. The sides traded blows and both had opportunities to take the win before ultimately being forced to settle for a draw.

For the Chiefs, it was a much more promising performance than any they'd put on through their opening four matches of the season. Coming into the match 0-4, the hosts took the fight to the Hurricanes and showed flashes of the potential they have. The Hurricanes were by no means at their best, with handling errors plaguing their attack throughout the match.

Perenara acknowledged his team wasn't at their best and while a win would have been nice, it would have shied in comparison to the events earlier in the day.

"We never use any excuses, regardless of performance, but today was bigger than rugby."