Christchurch loses matches


CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand March 16- Earthquake-devastated Christchurch has been stripped of all its 2011 Rugby World Cup matches with its quarter-final moved to Auckland."It is with sincere regret that I have to announce that the stakeholders have agreed that all the 2011 Rugby World Cup games scheduled to be played through Christchurch are to be moved," Rugby World Cup Minister Murray McCully said on Wednesday.

The city’s stadium and pitch were badly damaged by the 6.3-magnitude quake that hit on February 22, leaving up to 200 people dead.

No decision has been made yet on where the group matches will be played but Eden Park in Auckland will host the quarter-final scheduled for Christchurch.

"Eden Park was the only logical alternative to stage two of the tournament’s premier matches given the ground capacity and visitor accommodation demands associated with these quarter-final matches," said Rugby New Zealand chief Martin Snedden.

"We are working hard to ensure as many pool matches as reasonably possible remain in the South Island."

International Rugby Board Chairman Bernard Lapasset, who made the announcement alongside McCully in Christchurch, said the stadium operators could not guarantee that the extensive repairs could be made in time.

"That information means that tournament partners have been left with no choice but to make the difficult decision to reallocate the seven matches due to be played in Christchurch," he said.