The Super Rugby match between the Crusaders and the Highlanders in Dunedin has been called off in the wake of the Christchurch shootings.

The match, which was to be played at Forsyth Barr Stadium tonight, will not go ahead, with both teams set to get two competition points, once consultation is completed with SANZAAR.

It is the first Super Rugby game to be called off since 2011, when a game between the Hurricanes and Crusaders was cancelled due to the Christchurch earthquake.

New Zealand Rugby's Chief Rugby Officer Nigel Cass said the decision to cancel the match was made after urgent meetings today with both teams, venue management, police and community organisations involved in responses to yesterday's terrorist attacks in Christchurch.


"There's no template for this. I think all New Zealanders are shocked and saddened by what has happened, and in a rugby context we just wanted to make sure that we didn't kneejerk to any particular course of action, we took the time to talk to the players and a bunch of people connected to Christchurch, and made a considered decision," Cass told Martin Devlin on Newstalk ZB.

"After doing all that, we reached a point that the right decision – to show our complete respect with the victims of Christchurch and the absolute horror at what has happened – is to cancel the fixture."

Advice from police and venue management was that the game could go ahead, however Cass explained that after some debate, it was decided that the most respectful decision was to call the match off.

"We just wanted to do what was right in terms of showing respect and showing solidarity with the victims, and in that regard it's not straightforward. There are merits in terms of standing up to the terrorism and playing, and showing appropriate respect at the game.

"One of the fundamental things here in respect to this game is you've got a Crusaders team who live and are neighbours and friends with victims, they've got their own families who were caught up in the tragedy yesterday in terms of lockdown at schools and so on, so for them, their personal emotions are massively raw.

"What we've tried to do is weigh up the benefits of playing or not, and the thing that has most guided us is the desire to do the most respectful thing in relation to the people of Christchurch."

Crusaders CEO Colin Mainsbridge said their entire club community was in a state of shock.

"Yesterday's horrific attacks have left us all feeling stunned. All other issues and considerations pale in significance. We will now regroup and make arrangements for the team to return home as soon as possible to be back in their community and with their families."

Highlanders CEO Roger Clark said they were working to communicate with ticketholders and fans.

"This is always the biggest fixture on our match calendar and one which our fans look forward to, but when we think about the massive loss of life and absolute devastation that has been wreaked on people in Christchurch, we feel this is the right decision."

The Highlanders team has met today and all players have been advised to go home and be with their families. Ticketholders to the game will get refunds within the next three weeks.

Also cancelled was the ISPS Handa Premiership football match between Tasman United and Canterbury United, which was set to be played in Nelson.

Daniel Farrow, the Competitions and Events Director of NZ Football, said it was a unanimous decision and it was the right move for the people of Christchurch.

"[The decision] will allow staff, players and fans to remain in their community and with their family and friends in Christchurch during this difficult time."

All of the other matches in the final round of the Premiership will proceed as scheduled with both teams observing a minute's silence. The Wellington Phoenix's match against the Western Sydney Wanderers is also scheduled to go ahead tomorrow night in Wellington, with the teams set to wear black armbands and hold a minute's silence, as well as collecting donations before and after the match to support the victims of the attacks.

The latest round of netball's ANZ Premiership is also set to continue as planned, with the Mainland Tactix confirming they are still travelling to Invercargill for their match against the Southern Steel tomorrow night.

"We will play our hearts out for you all," the team said in a statement.