Christchurch quake won't ruin World Cup - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Christchurch quake won't ruin World Cup

Darren Walton 12/04/2011 06:10:32 PM Comments (0)

Seven weeks after being levelled by a magnitude 6.3 earthquake, Christchurch remains in "a state of devastation" and utterly incapable of hosting any Rugby World Cup matches.

But the tragedy won't stop the people of New Zealand from delivering a successful and memorable World Cup in September and October, according to tournament chief executive Martin Snedden.

Snedden says New Zealand's commitment to the seventh edition of rugby's global showpiece is as strong as ever, with the priority not necessarily on landing a long overdue second William Webb Ellis Cup.

"The reality is, we get a chance every four years to win the World Cup," he said on a visit to Sydney on Tuesday.

"If we don't win, we'll get rid of the coaches and get another chance in 2015.

"But we get a chance to host a World Cup once in a blue moon.

"We will never host an Olympics. We will never host a (soccer) World Cup.

"This is our Olympics and it is really important we host it well."

Snedden anticipates this year's World Cup will draw 85,000 to 95,000 people to New Zealand, of which "90 per cent don't give a toss about how the All Blacks go".

"So our population is really getting ready to take Australia's lead (from 2003) and welcome teams into the community," he said.

"There are 23 communities (hosting teams or games) and each town will create a festivals."

The tournament boss said the loss of Christchurch - which was to have staged seven games and been a base for the Wallabies for most of the pool stages - had provided major operational challenges.

"But we are ready," he said.

The major issue for RWC officials was the refunding of 160,000 tickets valued at around $NZ 25 million for the scheduled games in Christchurch and then putting them back up for re-sale.

Snedden expected the relocation of matches to different venues around the country would impact on sales, but there was no simply alternative.

"Christchurch is a still in astate of devastation," he said.

"While others have moved on and the focus has been taken by the earthquakes in Japan, Christchurch has not.

"Seven hundred buildings are being demolished, 70 per cent of hotels in the CBD are gone. The CBD is cordoned off. Imagine having the Sydney CBD cordoned off.

"Ten thousand houses in the eastern suburbs are being demolished. Some suburbs are just uninhabitable. Sixty to seventy thousand people have left the city.

"It's a waste of time even talking about the rebirth of Christchurch at the moment because the clean-up process is going to take the rest of the year.

"The city is in a state of grief, the rest of New Zealand is in shock and feeling pretty helpless."

Australia were due to play Italy (September 11) and Ireland (September 17) in Christchurch, the home city of Wallabies coach Robbie Deans, but will instead play those pool games in North Harbour and Auckland respectively.

Australia's final two pool matches are against the USA in Wellington on September 23 and Russia in Nelson on October 1.

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