The devastated city of Christchurch will not host any matches during this year’s Rugby World Cup (RWC 2011), it was announced yesterday. The South Island city was due to host several pool games and two quarter final matches, including key fixtures involving Australia and England. These matches will now be moved to other venues in the country.
The tournament’s organisers, Rugby New Zealand 2011, along with the International Rugby Board, the New Zealand Government and the New Zealand Rugby Union, said that the decision was taken following an assessment of the damage to key tournament facilities and infrastructure caused by the 6.3 magnitude earthquake that struck the city on 22 February. Stadium operator, Vbase had said in a report that it could not guarantee that all necessary repair work could be completed in time for the event, which kicks-off in September.
International Rugby Board Chairman, Bernard Lapasset, travelled to Christchurch for the announcement.
“Yesterday we were informed by Stadium Christchurch operator Vbase that it could not guarantee that the extensive repairs required for both the stadium structures and the playing surface could be completed in time. That information means that tournament partners have been left with no choice but to make the difficult decision to reallocate the seven matches due to be played in Christchurch.
“This has been a hard decision for all involved, given the place of Canterbury in New Zealand Rugby and the tremendous enthusiasm and support that the people of Christchurch have displayed for RWC 2011. The thoughts of the global rugby family continue to be with the people of Christchurch and everyone affected as they focus on the city’s rebuilding process and repair of key public services and facilities.”
Tourism New Zealand Chief Executive, Kevin Bowler, added; “Obviously it’s very disappointing for Christchurch that the games will no longer be held in the city. Canterbury and the rest of the South Island will continue to deliver rugby followers a rich array of great experiences, activities, adventure, festivities – and the rugby. I’m urging all visitors to New Zealand for Rugby World Cup 2011 not to leave without visiting the South Island.”
Auckland’s Eden Park stadium has been confirmed as the venue for the quarter-finals being played on 8-9 October, and a decision regarding where the five pool matches is expected to be taken before the end of March.