Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

RFU expect World Cup venue switch

William Webb Ellis Trophy

The Rugby Football Union expect to receive confirmation this week that their Rugby World Cup games will be moved away from earthquake-hit Christchurch.

The International Rugby Board, who will make the final decision after consultations with the New Zealand government, are waiting on a final engineering report from AMI Stadium managers Vbase.

New Zealand's World Cup minister Murray McCully has previously stated the pitch and stadium were both damaged by the earthquake, which hit on February 22 and measured 6.3 on the Richter Scale. The assessment, which is due "imminently", will detail whether the repairs can be completed in time for the tournament, which kicks off on September 9.

Press Association Sport has been told it is "pretty unlikely" Christchurch will be in a position to act as a host city. It is understood the RFU are also working on that basis.

The news would come as a significant blow to Christchurch, a rugby-mad city which was also hit by an earthquake in September last year.

Christchurch had been allocated seven fixtures in total, including England's pool matches against Argentina and Georgia and two of the four quarter-finals.

Scotland were also scheduled to meet the Pumas at AMI Stadium.

The RFU are waiting to hear from the World Cup organisers where their affected matches would be moved to before exploring new training facilities and accommodation options.

England already have pool matches in Dunedin and Auckland while Wellington's 'Cake Tin' stadium could also be considered as an alternative venue.

The New Zealand government hope to make a recommendation to the IRB by the end of this week.

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