Saturday’s Highlanders versus Crusaders Super Rugby fixture – scheduled to be played at Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium – was cancelled.

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

“After consulting widely with both teams and key stakeholders, New Zealand Rugby has decided to cancel this evening’s [Saturday’s] match.

“Advice from police and venue management was that the fixture could go ahead, however, with strong agreement from both teams we have made the final call not to proceed as a mark of respect for the events that have occurred in Christchurch.”

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

“Yesterday’s [Friday’s] horrific attacks have left us all feeling stunned. All other issues and considerations pale in significance,” Mainsbridge said.

“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 wrecked on people in Christchurch, we feel this is the right decision.

“For ticketholders, refunds will be processed over the next three weeks further information will be available through ticketrocket.co.nz.”

The Highlanders team has met “Saturday and all players have been advised to go home and be with their families.

The match is the second cancellation of a high-profile sporting event this week, alongside the third cricket Test between New Zealand and Bangladesh, which had been scheduled to begin in Christchurch on Saturday.

Members of the Bangladesh team narrowly avoided being caught up in the shooting at the Al Noor mosque when they arrived for Friday prayers.

The Crusaders’ Super Rugby clash with the Hurricanes in late February 2011 was also scratched after devastating earthquakes flattened much of central Christchurch and killed almost 200 people.

* Meanwhile tournament organisers SANZAAR has explained what happens as a result of the cancelled match.

“As per SANZAAR Tournament Rules, the decision to cancel a match is made by the SANZAAR Executive Committee following consultation with key stakeholders,” a statement read.

“Ultimately the decision is made to ensure the safety and well-being of all participants, but to also maintain the integrity of the sport.

SANZAAR Chairman Brent Impey stated: “SANZAAR does not take this decision lightly, but after consulting widely with key stakeholders, the SANZAAR Executive Committee has taken the necessary step to cancel the scheduled fixture as a mark of respect for the events that have occurred in Christchurch and in the best interests of the welfare of the Player’s and staff of the Highlanders and Crusaders.”

SANZAAR policy states that in the event of a match cancellation due to force majeure, the match will be officially declared a draw and both teams will receive 2 competition points.