All Blacks legend Sonny Bill Williams is set to make a touching sacrifice to show his support for those affected by the Christchurch shootings.
Williams, who captained the Auckland Blues to their first win of the Super Rugby season against the Sunwolves, has pulled out of this Friday’s match against the Highlanders to help out a Christchurch community devastated by the massacre.
A proud and devout muslim, Williams will spearhead a fundraising effort in Christchurch raise money for the family and friends of the dozens of victims.
The 33-year-old’s team have offered the star their full support as he leaves the squad in Auckland to travel to Christchurch.
Williams’ absence will count as one of the two games that all top All Blacks are scheduled to miss during the Super Rugby season as a way of minimising player burnout.
“Thank you everyone for your kind hearts,” Williams posted recently on social media.
“We will be in Christchurch later in the week to show love and give donations to the Christchurch Masjids (places of prayer), for the people affected in this tragedy. My heart is heavy, please don’t stop showing your support.”
The All Blacks legend posted a heartfelt message to his followers on social media after the attack, choking back tears as he paid his respects to the many victims.
“Just heard the news i couldn’t put it into words how I’m feeling right now,” Williams said in the video.
“Just sending my duas to the families. Apparently there’s close to 30 people dead.
“(I’m) sending out my duas to everyone that’s been killed today in Christchurch… you guys are all in paradise.
“I’m just deeply, deeply saddened this would happen in New Zealand.”
Crusaders mull name change in wake of attack
The Canterbury Crusaders have revealed they are consulting with the Muslim community about a potential change of name in the wake of the massacre in their home city of Christchurch.
The name of the reigning Super Rugby champions has been questioned in the past, but the club said “we understand the concerns that have been raised” after the mass shooting, which left 50 people dead.
Distinctive writing on the attacker’s weaponry included the names of historical figures from the Crusades, the religious wars waged by European Christians against Muslims for control of the Holy Land in the Middle Ages.
“In terms of the Crusaders name, we understand the concerns that have been raised,” chief executive Colin Mansbridge said in a statement.
“In our view, this is a conversation that we should have and we are taking on board all of the feedback that we are receiving, however, we also believe that the time for that is not right now,” he added.
“At an appropriate time, we will thoroughly consider the issues that have been raised and our response to that. That will include conversations with a range of people, including our Muslim community.”