NZ RWC Reluctantly Confirm Christchurch Matches Reallocated

March 16, 2011

Partners of the Rugby World Cup 2011 to be held in New Zealand have confirmed today, March 16, that a decision has been made, reluctantly stating that Christchurch will be unable to host the seven matches scheduled to be played at Stadium Christchurch.

A press statement revealed that the quarter finals set to be played in the nation’s second largest city will be relocated to Eden Park, while all other group matches will be rescheduled to be played at other venues in New Zealand.

The conclusion was a unanimous decision supported by Tournament owners the International Rugby Board (IRB), the New Zealand Government, the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) and Tournament organiser Rugby New Zealand 2011 (RNZ 2011).

This follows a detailed review of reports assessing damage to key Tournament facilities and infrastructure caused by the devastating 6.3 magnitude earthquake that struck the city on February 22 and advice from the stadium operator, Vbase, that it could not be certain that all necessary remedial work could be completed in time for RWC 2011.

IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset travelled to Christchurch for the announcement and stated: “Yesterday we were informed by Stadium Christchurch operator Vbase that it could not guarantee that the extensive repairs required could be completed in time. That information, coupled with a thorough review of every aspect of hosting RWC 2011 in the city, 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.”

Ticket holders for all Christchurch matches will be offered the option of a refund or the opportunity to secure tickets to the reallocated matches. RNZ 2011 has confirmed there will be sufficient availability of tickets for those wanting to take up that option.

Stadium operator Vbase confirmed that repair time-frames were so tight, there would be no leeway for work delays or for any risks that would impact time-lines. The company also identified a number of risks including;

• Ongoing investigation required that might reveal the need for further work in relation to structures and playing surface
• Complexity of a work programme that includes superficial and structural repairs and full replacement of the playing surface
• Availability of resources (labour, material and equipment) and timeliness of securing consents
• Aftershocks that might impact on the work programme

RNZ 2011 Chairman Brian Roche said: “We know Cantabrians are passionate about Rugby and we know that many wanted the matches to remain as a way to unite and heal their shattered city.

“However, we needed to weigh up the risks of continuing with matches in Christchurch with just 25 weeks until the world’s third largest sporting event kicks off. Sadly, we collectively agreed the risks were too great. The time-frames for repairs were too tight, the uncertainty too much.”

NZRU CEO and RNZ 2011 director Steve Tew added: “Our hearts go out to Canterbury fans today given the inevitable disappointment this decision will cause for many.”

“Tournament partners are looking into a number of initiatives that will give Cantabrians a chance to be part of our Stadium of Four Million. We still want them to play a part in hosting a successful Tournament and to share in the excitement of this event.”

Eden Park was confirmed as the venue for the quarter finals of October 8 and 9 and a decision regarding where the five Pool matches will now be played will be taken jointly by the Tournament’s partners as soon as feasibly possible, likely before the end of March.

RNZ 2011 CEO Martin Snedden stated: “Eden Park was the only logical alternative to stage two of the Tournament’s premier matches given the ground capacity and visitor accommodation demands associated with these quarter final matches.

“We are working hard to ensure as many pool matches as reasonably possible remain in the South Island. A key consideration in all of this is to reschedule matches in a way that minimises the impact on other matches and therefore causes the least disruption to existing arrangements for teams and travelling.”

Snedden added: “We appreciate this is a time of great uncertainty for fans which is why we are trying to resolve all issues as quickly as possible. We expect to be in a position to announce where the five matches will be played within two weeks.

“We are enormously grateful for the support of all our partners in New Zealand during this difficult process and the cooperation that has been shown as we work together to resolve this situation.”