Thursday, September 9, 2010

World Cup on track despite quake

Eden Park
Eden Park will host the opening match of the 2011 World Cup

New Zealand have marked a year until the start of the World Cup, less than a week after Christchurch was devastated by a 7.1-magnitude earthquake.

Organisers have insisted that despite the disaster, excitement is building.

"The foundations are being laid for a tournament all New Zealanders will be proud of," said Rugby New Zealand 2011 chief executive Martin Sneddon.

The opening match between New Zealand and Tonga will be played on 9 September 2011 at Eden Park in Auckland.

Christchurch is due to host seven matches, including two quarter-finals, but former New Zealand international cricketer Sneddon insisted that the earthquake would not derail planning of the tournament.

"We are monitoring potential impacts on our planning for for RWC 2011, but at this stage there is nothing to suggest the region will not be able to play its part in hosting this event," he said.

Despite the earthquake causing millions of pounds of damage, Sneddon is adamant that they remain on course to be ready.

"I'd rather be where we are now than perhaps where the organisers of the Delhi Commonwealth Games are," he added, in reference to next month's event in India.


Around 500,000 tickets have already been sold for the Rugby World Cup, with 100,000 of those being snapped up by overseas fans, bringing in a revenue of NZ$76m (£36m).

But given the popularity of tickets, Sneddon has warned against price hiking ahead of the tournament, claiming overcharging could damage the country's reputation.

"It's a time of peak demand during the tournament so it's perfectly reasonable that their pricing reflects that," he told national news agency NZPA. "But against that they need to ensure that they don't go overboard and start gouging.

"I think the key message here is that no one is going to make a fortune, but it will be very easy to make or break a reputation in the short time that the tournament's here."

Since New Zealand helped stage the inaugural World Cup in 1987, a tournament they went on to win, the All Blacks have failed to win the trophy on five occasions.

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