'There were was a real feeling of shock at the team room' – Irish rugby community pays tribute to Christchurch

'There were was a real feeling of shock at the team room' – Irish rugby community pays tribute to Christchurch

RUGBY pundit Brent Pope has said his native New Zealand’s ‘innocence is lost’ after 49 people died in a terror attack on two mosque’s in the country.

The RTE analyst, who grew up in the Christchurch area, said locals would now be living in fear of a similar attack happening again.

He told the Today programme on RTÉ Radio 1: “I grew up in Christchurch, all my friends are in Christchurch and this is the good fact about social media that I’m able to find out that they’re safe.

“It’s absolutely rocked the country…and I think that the description for my country is innocence lost.

“New Zealand has always been revered as a safe country, as a country somewhat stuck back in the old ages in the sense of you don’t have to lock your house or lock your car.

“I grew up in a multi racial society that embraced differences in culture and differences in colour and for this to happen.

“The one thing I would like to publicly say is the outpouring of love and support to me from the Irish people has been overwhelming.

“I know a lot of people that live in that suburb, especially the second mosque in Linwood, a suburb I’d know well.

“I’m getting reports back from children, school children on lockdown.

“People aren’t going anywhere they’re not allowed out,” Brent Pope added.

He added that the city was only returning to its feet after an earthquake killed some 185 people and caused catastrophic damage in February 2011.

“Christchurch is my city and it’s always been regarded by people who travelled over there as the more sleepiest of the cities since Wellington is our capital city and then Auckland is a junior Sydney, but Christchurch has always been regarded as a really safe place.

“First they had the earthquake, people had to recover from that. I was walking around the city when I got back home saying yes they’re getting back on their feet and people have gone through enough trauma and now for them to live in fear.

“Somebody has said the world has come to New Zealand. The world has come to New Zealand,” he said.

While Ireland captain Rory Best said: “Waking up the news this morning, it’s really tragic.

“Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to anyone who has family over there. Joe Schmidt and Greg Feek have family over in New Zealand and we all know Ronan O’Gara is over there at the moment.

“It’s just a tragedy that is hard to put into words. You feel helpless. There were was a real feeling of shock at the team room this morning.”

Meanwhile in Wales, rugby captain Alun Wyn Jones paid to tribute to New Zealand this afternoon.

“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.

“A lot of our staff have close links with New Zealand so I’d like to pass that on.”

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