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Rugby World Cup matches moved

Hon Murray McCully
Minister for the Rugby World Cup
16 March 2011

Rugby World Cup matches moved

Rugby World Cup Minister, Murray McCully, says the government and other stakeholders have agreed the Christchurch Rugby World Cup matches will be moved out of the city due to unacceptable risks associated with maintaining the current programme.

“Today’s decision is made with regret 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,” said Mr McCully.

The Minister says while the stadium structures can be fixed they can only be fixed in time if normal procurement processes are by-passed, placing insurance cover at risk. There is also a risk further testing will reveal other problems causing additional delays.

“Complete replacement of the turf at AMI Stadium is required. We have been advised that would be a tightly managed six month long project to replace it and that the turf was uninsured. The Rugby World Cup games commence in six months from last Wednesday. Any further damage to drainage under the turf places that timetable at risk,” said Mr McCully.

“Even if all of these difficulties were overcome, there is no guarantee that insurance arrangements, including public liability insurance, will be available on acceptable terms, especially if aftershocks continue,” he said.

The Minister says he has also now received reports confirming that available accommodation will not meet the projected numbers of visitors.

“For an event as important as the Rugby World Cup we need certainty, and unfortunately the only way to achieve that certainty was to agree to move the games,” said Mr McCully.

The Rugby World Cup Minister has thanked stakeholders for their co-operation and assistance in achieving this decision.

The government received some information over the weekend which was discussed by Ministers, and further information has been received in subsequent days. VBase, the stadium owners, held a board meeting on Monday to receive the engineering assessments and formally wrote to RNZ2011 on Tuesday advising of its position. IRB officials flew to New Zealand for a formalised decision meeting in Christchurch this morning.

ENDS

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