England will play two Rugby World Cup pool matches in Dunedin as organisers confirmed venues for matches moved from Christchurch after the devastating February 22 earthquake.
The International Rugby Board (IRB) on Wednesday said five pool matches have been moved from Christchurch because of damage caused to the city’s AMI Stadium, to hotels and to infrastructure by the quake which killed at least 166 people.
England will now play Pool B matches against Argentina on September 10 and Georgia on September 18 at the South Island city of Dunedin. Australia will play matches against Italy at Auckland’s North Harbour Stadium on September 11 and Russia at Nelson on October 1. Argentina will play Scotland in Wellington on September 25.
The two quarterfinals scheduled for Christchurch will be played at Auckland’s Eden Park.
A further match between Scotland and Georgia on September 14 has been moved from Dunedin to Invercargill for operational reasons.
IRB and Rugby World Cup chairperson Bernard Lapasset has approved the change of venues.
“Following the difficult decision to transfer the Christchurch matches, all involved have worked hard to confirm the new venues as quickly as possible. We are pleased that three of the five matches will remain in the South Island,” Lapasset said.
“We appreciate the patience shown by the teams and fans during this difficult period and are enormously grateful for the support and cooperation of all our partners during what has been a complex process,” he said.
Rugby New Zealand 2011 chief executive Martin Snedden said the announcement provided certainty for affected teams, fans and the media.
“This has been a complex logistical process, but with the help of our tournament partners, the arrangements are now complete,” he said.
“Our desire was always to transfer as many of the Christchurch pool matches as was reasonably possible to other existing South Island venues.
“At the same time we are very conscious that time is pressing, with just 163 days to go before the world’s third largest sporting event kicks off, so we have also sought to minimise disruptions to ensure as few teams and their supporters were affected as possible.” — Sapa-AP