Ireland rugby team share 'heartfelt sympathies' with Christchurch after shootings

Wales also passed on their respects to everyone affected by the events in New Zealand.

Murray Kinsella reports from Principality Stadium, Cardiff

IRELAND CAPTAIN RORY Best has shared his squad’s sympathies with the people of Christchurch after the shootings in New Zealand.

At least 49 people were killed in mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, with dozens of people also injured.

Ireland have a New Zealand influence in their squad through head coach Joe Schmidt, scrum coach Greg Feek and centre Bundee Aki, while injured out-half Joey Carbery was born there too.

Rory Best Billy Stickland / INPHO Ireland captain Rory Best. Billy Stickland / INPHO / INPHO

Many in the Irish group also have strong relationships with former Munster and Ireland out-half Ronan O’Gara, now an assistant coach with the Christchurch-based Crusaders. 

Speaking on the eve of his side’s Six Nations meeting with Wales in Cardiff, Ireland captain Rory Best shared the squad’s shock and sadness at hearing the news from New Zealand.

“Waking up this morning to that news, it’s just really, really tragic,” said Best. “Our heartfelt sympathies go out to all the families and anyone in that Christchurch area and anyone with family over there.

“We have Joe here, we have Greg Feek, Bundee has family in New Zealand. Ronan O’Gara, who is a good friend of a lot of the squad, is over there as well, so it’s just one of those tragedies that’s hard to put into words.

“We feel very helpless that all we can do is pass on our deepest sympathies. It’s really, really tragic. It was definitely the talk of the team room this morning at breakfast, everyone was shocked and saddened by it.” 

Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones also shared his squad’s condolences.

New Zealand native Warren Gatland is the Wales head coach, while out-half Gareth Anscombe and centre Hadleigh Parkes are also Kiwis by birth.

“On behalf of the Welsh Rugby Union players and staff, I’d just like to pass on my respects to everyone affected by the events that have gone on in New Zealand,” said Jones. “A lot of our staff have close links with New Zealand so I’d like to pass that on.” 

Bernard Jackman joins Murray Kinsella and Ryan Bailey on The42 Rugby Weekly as Ireland bid to spoil Wales’ Grand Slam party in Cardiff, and the U20s target their own piece of history.

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