Hurricanes halfback TJ Perenara has spoken of the sombre mood that overshadowed Friday night's 23-23 Super Rugby draw against the Chiefs in Hamilton.
Both sides linked arms and gathered in a huddle before kick-off to pay their respects to the victims of the Christchurch terror attack, with the 12,000-strong crowd also marking a moment of silence.
Forty-nine people so far have been confirmed killed at two Christchurch mosques, while 48 patients, including children, are being treated in Christchurch Hospital.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called it "one of New Zealand's darkest days".
All Black Perenara said it tough to play a game of rugby just hours later.
"Today was bigger than rugby, not only for us but for the Chiefs and for all of New Zealand," Perenara told reporters after the game.
"Regardless of how that result went, that wouldn't have been the most important part of my day, and I don't think anyone in this circle or in this country would say that rugby was the most important thing today.
"That comes from a very competitive person who would do pretty much anything to win."
The Chiefs looked on course for their first win of the season after leading by seven points at the break. However, the Hurricanes responded quickly, thanks to a Beauden Barrett penalty and a try to winger Wes Goosen.
Playmaker Damian McKenzie, who started at fullback, slotted his third penalty for the Chiefs to tie the game at 23-23 with more than 20 minutes remaining, with both sides unable to find a late breakthrough.
Other sports league around the world have also paid their respects with a moments silence before matches, while the Blackcaps' third test against Bangladesh in Christchurch was cancelled after the tourists narrowly avoided the shooting.