Christchurch Won’t Host World Cup – updated

The British newspaper The Telegraph has obtained confirmation from a senior International Rugby Board source that the forthcoming engineer’s technical report on the condition of the AMI stadium is likely to be “bleak”

The article made the following observations, some of which will be sombre news for the people of Christchurch that own the stadium.

  • The pitch sustained serious liquefaction and there has been structural damage to the stadium
  • The Crowne Plaza, the hotel where the English team will be stationed, ” was also seriously damaged by the quake
  • 80 per cent of the city’s roads are impassable, a third of its buildings are damaged and major utilities were seriously hit by the earthquake, the national and city authorities are set to plough their resources into rebuilding the city instead of making the stadium a priority.
  • The decision to take the tournament away from Christchurch will be made in the next 48 hours.
  • The NZ government will be involved in that decision. It will be made jointly by the IRB, the New Zealand government, the New Zealand Rugby Union and Rugby World Cup Limited. The latter is the company that was established to run the tournament.
  • Chief exec of the IRB, Mike Miller has “guaranteed that every game would be played in New Zealand, even if Christchurch is ruled out as a venue, and a contingency plan already exists which is likely to see games switched to Auckland, Wellington and Otago.”
  • The English team will be based in Auckland and provision will be made to take care of people who had made plans to attend the Christchurch matches and still want to travel to New Zealand.

Read the full article here

Its disappointing to see that the stadium, despite recent renovation work, was unable to withstand the effects of the earthquakes that have pounded Canterbury over the last 5 months. The performance of the stadium will no doubt be something that will be examined in the forthcoming Commission of Inquiry.

Overall, this is very bad news for Cantabrians but at least they will be able to concentrate their resources on re-building their city and making it safer for everyone.

Update 16 March 2011

A decision on the city’s ability to host the games is due today, within the 48 hours The Telegraph predicted.

Stuff has published a description of the damage to the stadium, together with photographs which included a one metre deep  sink hole behind the Tui stand, cracking in the concrete floor of the same stand, and also under the Deans stand.


The focus in Christchurch is on AMI Stadium, which shows few obvious signs of the damage that has placed Christchurch’s World Cup role in jeopardy. The columns under the stands are all upright, and the pitch looks green and lush, if uneven.

However, concrete floors and some walls have cracks up to 30 millimetres wide.

It is unclear which earthquake caused the cracks, but they will be a major worry for engineers.

The most severe damage appears to have occurred in the Tui (southern) Stand and the new Deans (eastern) Stand. Stairs leading to the Tui Stand have serious cracking, and doors leading into the stands are sticking.

An entrance in the middle of the Deans Stand has bulged upwards and has separated from the side wall.

Areas under the stands are littered with debris, indicating material has fallen from the underside of the stands. In one place under the Deans Stand, sheared bolts lie on the concrete floor.

The Deans stand is new and built for the world cup, it was only opened in January 2010. It seats 13,000 people.

The Tui stand, originally called the DB Draught stands,  was opened in  2000 and re-named Tui in 2006.

Both structures should have been built to current NZ earthquake standards.

A decision on the city’s ability to host the games is due today, within the 48 hours The Telegraph predicted.

3.05pm NZ time: Murray McCully announced that all of the city’s quarter final games will be move to Auckland’s Eden Park on the same dates and times;  and that the NZ government will support efforts to re-locate the pool games to other locations in the South Island. The government will also pay to re-instate the AMI’s pitch which was uninsured.

As for the five pool matches, progress is moving quickly and they have a good idea on where they need to go. A final announcement in 2 weeks. As many as possible will go to the South Island but two will probably go to the north.