Christchurch’s hopes of hosting Rugby World Cup matches later this year have received a huge blow after the New Zealand government revealed that the city’s AMI Stadium, set to stage seven games during the tournament, has suffered significant damage due to the tragic earthquake on February 22.
It was initially reported that the venue had escaped major damage however, Rugby World Cup Minister Murray McCully painted a bleak picture in an interview with the New Zealand Herald, admitting that the final decision on Christchurch’s involvement would rest with the International Rugby Board (IRB).
McCully stated: “There is a serious liquefaction issue on the ground itself. There are parts of the ground where there is bulge in the playing surface of some significance. I’m told there are some structural issues with the stadium itself, but obviously we aren’t going to rely on my assessment. We’ll wait for the engineers’ reports to come through.”
He added: “We’re operating on the basis that, if it can happen, we’ll make it happen. We’re waiting to see if the stadium is able to be made ready for the hosting of the games, and then we’ll look at the other issues associated with Christchurch’s capacity to accommodate people and provide the appropriate infrastructure. (But) none of this works without a stadium.”
McCully said the IRB had been “enormously supportive” and explained: “At the end of the day, it’s their decision.”