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Earthquake won’t shift Rugby World Cup to Australia

Earthquake won’t shift Rugby World Cup to Australia
February 24, 2011

Rugby New Zealand 2011 has denied rumours that the devastating Christchurch earthquake could lead to the Rugby World Cup 2011 being shifted from New Zealand to Australia.

Rugby New Zealand 2011 (RNZ 2011) Chief Executive Martin Snedden expressed sympathy to the people of Christchurch as the city deals with the aftermath of Tuesday's quake.

Snedden stated "our thoughts are very much with the people of Christchurch during this very sad and difficult time.

"There are many in our broader Rugby World Cup 2011 (RWC 2011) family working within the council, VBase, Canterbury Rugby Union, tourism and business organisations and other agencies who have been affected by this and we feel for them.

"It is too early to talk in any detail about implications for the Tournament in Christchurch and any assessment by us must wait while the rescue efforts take priority.

"The next step will involve our organisation leading a thorough process of assessing the city's ability to host the seven RWC 2011 matches scheduled to take place there. This will involve an assessment of all the key RWC 2011 infrastructure of the city including the stadium, hotels, training facilities and the transport network.

"A detailed evaluation of this nature will take place as soon as is reasonably possible. We are mindful of the pressure the people of Christchurch are under right now and do not want to place any more demands on them.

"Christchurch is a proud Rugby city with a rich Rugby heritage and we know the Tournament means a lot to fans there.

"We are hopeful a clearer picture will emerge in the coming days to allow us to make the right decisions.

"There has been speculation that this tragedy puts the entire event in jeopardy or that matches will relocate to Australia. That is not the case.

"Rest assured, RWC 2011 will proceed and all matches will take place in New Zealand."

The International Rugby Board also issued a statement saying their thoughts and deepest sympathies were with the people of Christchurch. The statement added that it was inappropriate to comment on the status of the World Cup infrastructure or operations at this stage.

Canterbury Rugby Union Chief Executive Hamish Riach has cast doubts at to whether Christchurch will be able to host its allotted seven matches at the Rugby World Cup in September and October.

"Right now it doesn't feel like we could host very much at all," Riach told Television New Zealand.

However, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key believes retaining Rugby World Cup games in Christchurch would be a powerful symbol of the city's resilience after two major earthquakes in the past six months.

Prime Minister Key stated "if we can host the Rugby World Cup as we intended to in Christchurch, I'd like to do that."

Christchurch's AMI stadium is due to host seven matches during the World Cup from 9th September to 23rd October, including two quarter-finals.

Image shows Christchurch's AMI Stadium, which has apparently been severely damaged by the latest earthquake.





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