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Christchurch hosting RWC 2011 games decision

Christchurch hosting RWC 2011 games decision

(RUGBYWORLDCUP.COM) Wednesday 16 March 2011


• 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

Rugby World Cup 2011 (RWC 2011) Tournament partners have today reluctantly decided 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 February 22 and advice from the stadium operator, Vbase that it could not provide an absolute assurance that all necessary remedial work could be completed in time for RWC 2011. A copy of the correspondence received yesterday from Vbase can be found here.

International Rugby Board Chairman Bernard Lapasset travelled to Christchurch for today’s announcement.

“Yesterday 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.

“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 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 rescheduled matches for those wanting to take up that option. Full details will be provided by the end of March. For further ticketing information please visit www.rugbyworldcup.com/tickets.

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.

Among the “risks” identified by Vbase:

• 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

“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,” said RNZ 2011 Chairman Brian Roche.

“However, we needed to weigh up the risks of continuing with matches in Christchurch with just 25 weeks to kick-off to the world’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.”

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

“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.”

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 Tournament’s partners as soon as feasibly possible, likely before the end of March.

“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,,” said RNZ 2011 CEO Martin Snedden.

“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.

“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 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.”

ENDS

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

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 including accommodation, transport and broadcast logistics. Any changes to the match schedule will involve discussions with 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 secure tickets to the rescheduled matches. RNZ 2011 will provide full details about this process by the end of March and 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. 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 by the end of March.

What happens to fans who have booked flights and accommodation?

There are discussions underway with airline and accommodation providers to determine the transitional arrangements. We urge patience until more accurate advice is provided. Ultimately fans will need to contact their 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 and transport providers. However, we will be moving through this process as quickly as possible and aim to announce 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 the Tournament.

Why could Dunedin not host at least one of the quarter-finals?

The new stadium’s maximum capacity is 30,000 compared to 45,000 for Stadium Christchurch so it would not be possible to satisfy all demand for either match. Some fans who had booked for Christchurch would inevitably miss out. Auckland was the logical alternative given the proven capacity and capability of the city and Eden Park to host major events.

--

Stadium Christchurch Playing Surface

Significant liquefaction has been confirmed on the field surface and other points within the venue. This has led to significant distortion all over the field. The previous camber on the field has been ruined, either due to the centre of the field falling or some edges rising.

The current turf system runs to a depth of 500mm including grass, plastic mesh, root systems and a sand drainage base. This will need to be completely replaced. The 4km of drainage system installed throughout the field is also irreparably damaged and needs to be replaced.

A full replacement surface will need to be grown. This will need to be done in Auckland as the grass will not grow over winter in Christchurch.

Further reviews indicate that the process involved to manufacture and transport the product, install and sew materials, cultivate the turf as well as harvesting will take at best 20 weeks and at worst 25.5 weeks, which coincides with the start of the Tournament.

Accommodation

Following the earthquake there is uncertainty regarding the level and quality of accommodation. The current reality is that, notwithstanding the best will, there will be substantial accommodation constraints not only for international but domestic visitors. It appears unlikely that these constraints will be able to be addressed in a way that will give visitors the certainty that they will be looking for within the available timeframe.

It is believed that only 47% of the pre-earthquake bed stock – hotels, motels and backpackers - in Christchurch today is in buildings that are fully operational. While it is expected that the supply will improve as reconstruction occurs, for now it appears that only 25% i.e. 2,100 of around 8,200 hotel beds are operational today. Some 5,200 hotel beds are inside the cordon. Prior to the earthquake these were all but fully booked around the quarter-final matches. While some of these beds will be potentially available there is still considerable uncertainty associated with cordon restrictions and demolition/deconstruction requirements.

Under the circumstances it has been concluded that we will not be in the position to close the accommodation gap in Christchurch in a manner and time that will enable our visitors to plan with confidence.

--

Letter from Vbase: 1103/2042077_PDF.pdf

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