Many 'gutted' by RWC decision: mayor - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Many 'gutted' by RWC decision: mayor

By Vaughan Elder 16/03/2011 05:15:32 PM Comments (0)

The decision that Christchurch should not host Rugby World Cup games will leave many in the earthquake-devastated city "gutted", mayor Bob Parker said.

Christchurch had been set to host two quarter-finals and five group-stage games but, after a meeting with International Rugby Board (IRB) officials on Wednesday, Rugby World Cup Minister Murray McCully announced the city would no longer have that role.

The two quarter-finals will now be played in Auckland on October 8 and 9, while five pool games allocated to Christchurch will go to other venues yet to be confirmed.

"We're facing a long hard winter here in this city of ours," said Parker.

"We were looking forward to a spring that would be brightened by having the Rugby World Cup here in our city."

Parker said while he understood the decision, as a Cantabrian he would always find it hard to take.

"From my heart I will always find this decision hard to accept - perhaps even agree with at some level - but in my head what is important for us all to recognise is that this is an event that is bigger than Christchurch, it is about our country," he said.

"As much as many of us are completely gutted by this, we understand ... the decision."

Not holding the games was a major blow to the city's businesses which were looking forward to the influx of rugby supporters into the city.

"I do worry about our businesses, I do worry about those people who saw this event and the opportunities that it would bring as some extra warmth at the end of that long hard winter," he said.

It was not only the people of Christchurch who would miss out but also the people who had booked to come to the city.

"They are going to miss out on probably the most rugby-centric place in New Zealand."

The announcement came after speculation over whether AMI Stadium could be repaired in time for the Rugby World Cup.

There were also worries that in the event the stadium could be fixed there would not be enough accommodation in the city with many of its largest hotels, including the Hotel Grand Chancellor, badly hit by the quake.

Some of those hit by the quake were also worried work on the stadium could delay reconstruction elsewhere.

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