SYDNEY, April 13 – Rugby World Cup chief executive Martin Snedden says this year's tournament is New Zealand's Olympics and it was crucial they hold it properly despite the loss of Christchurch as a host city.
Christchurch was rocked by a 7.0-magnitude earthquake last September, then hit by a 6.3-magnitude tremor on February 22.
The second quake claimed more than 180 lives, leaving up to a third of the city’s downtown area and about 10,000 homes facing demolition and forcing all matches scheduled for the city to be designated elsewhere.
New Zealander Snedden, head of the 2011 tournament, said the tragedy would not stop the people of New Zealand from delivering a memorable World Cup in September and October.
"The reality is, we get a chance every four years to win the World Cup," he said in Sydney.
"If we don’t win, we’ll get rid of the coaches and get another chance in 2015. But we get a chance to host a World Cup once in a blue moon.
"We will never host an Olympics. We will never host a (football) World Cup.
"This is our Olympics and it is really important we host it well."
Losing Christchurch had created major operational challenges, he added, but insisted "we are ready."
Snedden, meanwhile, urged New Zealanders not to let their passion for a first All Blacks World Cup triumph in 24 years overshadow the fact that their country was the host nation.
"We are just trying to get (New Zealand) people’s attention on to the fact that we have to look after everybody, and if the All Blacks do well, well that’s the icing on the cake," he said.
"We’re going to have a chance to win the World Cup in 2015 and so on. So it is important we don’t mess up as hosts."