Christchurch to host no Rugby World Cup games

08:44, March 17, 2011      

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A meeting of government ministers and International Rugby Board officials on Wednesday has ruled New Zealand South Island city of Christchurch out of the right to host Rugby World Cup games.

Since the Feb. 22 earthquake, doubts have been growing about Christchurch's ability to host the seven scheduled Rugby World Cup (RWC) matches, which include two quarterfinals.

There is extensive damage to the city's RWC venue, AMI Stadium, and other parts of the city are still unliveable.

New Zealand Rugby World Cup Minister Murray McCully, Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee and representatives from AMI Stadium met International Rugby Board chief executive Mike Miller and chair Bernard Lapasset on Wednesday.

Following the meeting, McCully announced that the risks of proceeding as planned are simply too great.

"Today's decision is made with regret," he said. "And clearly is a blow to the people of Canterbury, who rightly pride themselves on being the home of New Zealand's pre-eminent Super Rugby and NPC teams.

"But we simply have to acknowledge that collective uncertainties associated with the planned hosting of games in Christchurch are overwhelming."

The quarterfinals will be played in Auckland, while efforts will be made to keep some games in the South Island.

Rugby World Cup 2011 chief executive Martin Snedden said that may not be practical but he will do everything he can to make that happen.

McCully said work has begun on developing a special travel package that will allow those who have already bought tickets to the Christchurch quarterfinals to travel to Auckland on a concessionary basis. Refunds will also be available.

Source: Xinhua
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