Ravaged Christchurch stripped of Rugby World Cup matches
AUCKLAND looms as the Wallabies’ new Rugby World Cup base after earthquake-ravaged Christchurch was removed as a tournament venue.
RWC organisers yesterday made the logical yet difficult decision to move all seven matches scheduled for New Zealand’s third biggest city.
Christchurch was set to hold two of the Wallabies’ pool matches – their first against Italy on September 11 and last against Russia on October 1 – as well as host the Australian team for 19 days during the preliminary stage of the tournament.
With coach Robbie Deans one of Canterbury’s favourite sons, the Wallabies were assured of great support due to a home-town ’’ Deans Factor’’.
Deans himself was philosophical about the decision which leaves New Zealand’s most successful recent rugby heartland a RWC black hole.
‘‘ While today’s news is disappointing for Christchurch, having been in the city earlier in the week and able to assess the damage for myself, the decision is understandable,’’ the fivetime Super Rugby title-winning coach of the Crusaders said.
‘‘ As important as the hosting of the Rugby World Cup is to the people of New Zealand, the people of Christchurch have more important issues to deal with as they endeavour to rebuild their city and their lives after the recent tragedy.’’
Rugby NZ2011 chief executive Martin Snedden indicated two of the five Christchurch pool matches were likely to be shifted to the North Island, with the other three to be shared in Dunedin, Nelson and Invercargill.