RNZ 2011 voices sympathy

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Rugby New Zealand 2011 (RNZ 2011) CEO Martin Snedden has expressed sympathy to the people of Christchurch as the New Zealand city deals with the aftermath of a devastating earthquake on 22 February 2011. The death toll stood at 147 at the time of writing.

Our thoughts are very much with the people of Christchurch during this very sad and difficult time. There are many in our broader Rugby World Cup 2011 (RWC 2011) family working within the council, VBase, Canterbury Rugby Union, tourism and business organisations and other agencies who have been affected by this and we feel for them, " said Snedden. It is too early to talk in any detail about implications for the Tournament in Christchurch and any assessment by us must wait while the rescue efforts take priority. The next step will involve our organisation leading a thorough process of assessing the citys ability to host the seven RWC 2011 matches scheduled to take place there. This will involve an assessment of all the key RWC 2011 infrastructure of the city including the stadium, hotels, training facilities and the transport network. A detailed evaluation of this nature will take place as soon as is reasonably possible. We are mindful of the pressure the people of Christchurch are under right now and do not want to place any more demands on them. Christchurch is a proud Rugby city with a rich Rugby heritage and we know the Tournament means a lot to fans there. We are hopeful a clearer picture will emerge in the coming days to allow us to make the right decisions. " There has been speculation that this tragedy puts the entire event in jeopardy or that matches will relocate to Australia. That is not the case. Rest assured, RWC 2011 will proceed and all matches will take place in New Zealand. Since Snedden's statement however, the New Zealand government has conceded that Christchurch may not be able to host Rugby World Cup matches in the autumn, following the earthquake. The city is scheduled to host seven matches in September and October 2011, but its infrastructure and accommodation facilities were badly damaged by the earthquake. Speaking four days after the disaster, and despite the fact that the AMI Stadium had suffered only minor damage, the earthquake recovery minister Gerry Brownlee told TVNZ: " To lose the Rugby World Cup from Christchurch would be a massive blow. I don't want to see it happen, but we've got to be realistic about the prospect. This place recovered amazingly well after the 4 September earthquake [in 2010]. But let's not rush too far ahead of things. ","43

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