Christchurch to lose RWC hosting rights

Christchurch will be stripped of its World Cup matches when an engineers’ structural report of the AMI stadium is published later this week.

Last month’s earthquake has already forced the Crusaders to relocate to Nelson, and there have been fears that the city’s stadium could not be repaired in time for the global showpiece in September. According to the The Daily Telegraph, a senior International Rugby Board source said a structural report to be published this week will reveal that the stadium is not fit to host the scheduled five group games and two quarter-finals.

The Telegraph reports that the AMI stadium has sustained not only serious liquefaction to the pitch, but the engineer’s report will confirm structural damage to the stands.

The newspaper also said the English rugby team, who were supposed to be based in Christchurch, will in all likelihood set up camp in Auckland. If Christchurch is stripped of its World Cup matches, it is likely that most of those games will move to Auckland.

The final decision on the matter will be announced later this week, and New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said it would be hugely disappointing to omit Christchurch from the World Cup schedule.

‘We all acknowledge it’s challenging, but that doesn’t mean it’s not impossible,’ Key said. ‘Yes, there is an emotional part of this, and obviously all of us, I think, want to see the Cup held in Christchurch. But unless it can be done in a way where it’s in the best interests of both Cantabrians – and actually possible – and in the best interests of the Rugby World Cup and New Zealand’s international image, it won’t happen.’