In a major setback to the quake-affected city, the Rugby World Cup 2011 Tournament partners announced that Christchurch will be unable to host the seven matches scheduled to be played at Stadium Christchurch and these will be rescheduled to be played at other venues in New Zealand.
The decision was unanimously supported by Tournament owners the International Rugby Board, 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 22 February.
The stadium operator, Vbase, Â could not provide an absolute assurance that all necessary remedial work could be completed in time for RWC 2011, a statement by Rugby World Cup 2011 said.
Stadium Christchurch requires extensive repairs, timeframes uncertain
Quarter finals reallocated to Eden Park
Pool matches to be reallocated to other RWC 2011 venues
Existing ticket holders to be offered refund or tickets to reallocated matches
International Rugby Board Chairman Bernard Lapasset travelled to Christchurch for the announcement.
â€œYesterday 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.
â€œThis 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 cityâ€™s rebuilding process and repair of key public services and facilities.â€
Ticket purchasers for all Christchurch matches will be offered the option of a refund or the opportunity to secure tickets to the relevant reallocated matches.
RNZ 2011 has confirmed there will be sufficient availability of tickets to the rescheduled matches for those wanting to take up that option.
Further ticketing information.
Vbase has indicated that the repair timeframes are so tight there would be no leeway for work delays or for any risks. This prevents Vbase giving assurances that it can meet its RWC 2011 obligations.
- 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
â€œWe 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,â€ says RNZ 2011 Chairman Brian Roche.
â€œHowever, we needed to weigh up the risks of continuing with matches in Christchurch with just 25 weeks to kick-off to the worldâ€™s third largest sporting event.
“Sadly, we collectively agreed the risks were too great. The timeframes for repairs were too tight, the uncertainty too much.â€
NZRU CEO and RNZ 2011 director Steve Tew says. â€œOur hearts go out to Canterbury fans today given the inevitable disappointment this decision will cause for many.â€
â€œTournament 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.â€
Contingency planning is at an advanced stage, but the process of allocation of matches is complex with many factors to consider, including accommodation, transport and broadcast logistics.
Eden Park is 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 Tournamentâ€™s partners as soon as feasibly possible, likely before the end of March.
â€œEden Park was the only logical alternative to stage two of the Tournamentâ€™s premier matches given the ground capacity and visitor accommodation demands associated with these quarter-final matches,,â€ says RNZ 2011 CEO Martin Snedden.
â€œWe 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.
â€œWe appreciate this is a time of great uncertainty for fans which is why we are trying to resolve all issues as quickly as possible.
â€œWe are enormously grateful for the support of all our partners in New Zealand during this difficult process and in particular the strenuous efforts by Vbase in attempting to meet our requirements.â€
The Rugby World Cup isÂ expected to be the most wagered event of the year, according to most New Zealand betting firms.
British agency Ladbrokes has reported that a near quarter of a million New Zealand dollars has been wagered on the host team, All Blacks.
A Ladbrokes punter has placed a Â£100,000 ($210,000 NZD) bet on New Zealand winning the World Cup, with odds at the time ‘even money’ for the All Blacks to break their famous global title drought.
â€œThe All Blacks have a patchy World Cup record but somebody with a lot of cash clearly thinks theyâ€™re ready to come good next year,â€ Alex Donohue of Ladbrokes said.
Ladbrokes responded instantly and slashed the odds for the All Blacks to 4/5 to win on home soil.
The odds essentially run through as a list of the current International Rugby Board world rankings, with the Investec Tri Nations sides the top three favourites globally.
England and France are ranked fourth and fifth favourites to win.
Massive sums of money have been wagered on the All Blacks in World Cups before.
The NZ Herald reported that at the last World Cup in France, someone wagered $5 million AUD ($5.9 million NZD) for the All Blacks to win, with the odds again at even money for the 2007 favourites.
FAQs by Rugby World Cup 2011
When will a decision be made on rescheduled matches?
RNZ 2011 aims to resolve this by the end of March. This is a complex process with many factors to consider includingÂ accommodation, transport and broadcast logistics. Any changes to the match schedule will involve discussions withÂ multiple suppliers and all this will take time.
What happens to tickets to Christchurch matches?
Ticket purchasers for all Christchurch matches will be offered the option of a refund or the opportunity to secureÂ tickets to the rescheduled matches. RNZ 2011 will provide full details about this process by the end of March andÂ communicate with all ticket purchasers directly. Further information can be found here.
Will ticket purchasers be able to get tickets for the same category seat?
RNZ 2011 can confirm there will be sufficient availability of tickets for those wanting to take up that option.Â Availability in specific categories will depend on the venue to which the relevant match will be reallocated.
What if ticket holders want a refund now?
While the process is being finalised, we are unable to process any refunds. Full details on the policy will be provided byÂ the end of March.What happens to fans who have booked flights and accommodation?Â There are discussions underway with airline and accommodation providers to determine the transitionalÂ arrangements. We urge patience until more accurate advice is provided. Ultimately fans will need to contact theirÂ provider directly.
Why are you not releasing the other match reallocations aside from the quarter-finals?
We need time to lock in venue agreements and arrangements with many suppliers including accommodation andÂ transport providers. However, we will be moving through this process as quickly as possible and aim to announceÂ decisions by the end of March.
Could Christchurch still be a training base for some teams?
It is too early to say. We are examining a variety of initiatives to help Christchurch share in the excitement of theÂ Tournament.
Why could Dunedin not host at least one of the quarter-finals?
The new stadiumâ€™s maximum capacity is 30,000 compared to 45,000 for Stadium Christchurch so it would not beÂ possible to satisfy all demand for either match. Some fans who had booked for Christchurch would inevitably missÂ out. Auckland was the logical alternative given the proven capacity and capability of the city and Eden Park to hostÂ major events.