Rav­aged Christchurch stripped of Rugby World Cup matches

Townsville Bulletin - - Sport -

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.

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