30 Mar 2011

Three RWC pool matches remain in South Island

8:00 pm on 30 March 2011

New venues for Rugby World Cup games moved from earthquake-hit Christchurch have been announced.

The 6.3-magnitude quake on 22 February caused extensive damage to AMI Stadium, the entire stadium turf needs replacing and the city no longer has enough accommodation for the volume of fans expected.

On Wednesday afternoon Rugby World Cup 2011 announced its revised game schedule as follows.

Three pool matches will remain in the South Island.

In pool B, Argentina will play England at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin. England will also play Georgia in Dunedin.

These changes mean that Dunedin will not now host the match between Scotland and Georgia, which has been allocated to Invercargill.

In pool C, Australia will play Russia at Trafalgar Park in Nelson.

The two remaining games go to the North Island: in pool B Argentina play Scotland at Wellington's Westpac Stadium, and in pool C Australia play Italy at North Harbour Stadium in Auckland.

It has already been announced that the two quarter-finals originally scheduled for Christchurch will be played at Eden Park, Auckland.

Dunedin's new stadium meets criteria

The chief executive of Rugby World Cup 2011, Martin Snedden, says Dunedin's new fully enclosed stadium, which is nearing completion, has met the criteria to be confirmed as a match venue.

He says the stadium's operators have given the necessary assurances that the venue will be ready in time.

Meanwhile, official documents confirm that Christchurch's AMI Stadium could not be repaired in time for the Cup tournament.

The documents show the directors of Vbase - the company that runs the stadium - met on 14 March and agreed they could not guarantee the ground would be ready in time.

Rugby World Cup organisers were advised the following day, and the next day the Government and the International Rugby Board announced that the games scheduled for Christchurch would be moved.

Mayors welcome news

South Island mayors have welcomed the news that three games will still be played in the South Island.

Dunedin mayor Dave Cull says it's sad to lose the Scotland match, because of the city's heritage link to that country, but the games gained will allow English fans to stay in the region for three weeks.

Mr Cull says the city's accommodation and hospitality capacity will be pushed by the extra influx of people but options such as hospitability hubs are being discussed.