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Page last updated at 11:16 GMT, Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Rugby World Cup: Games to stay in NZ, says rugby chief

People walk through the centre of Chirstchurch
People walk through the centre of Chirstchurch after the 6.3 magnitude quake

Rugby New Zealand 2011 boss Martin Snedden says all World Cup matches will take place in the country, despite Tuesday's earthquake in Christchurch.

Since the quake, 75 people are known to have died in New Zealand's second city and more than 300 are missing.

"Any assessment [of Christchurch] by us must wait while the rescue efforts take priority," said Snedden.

He added: "Rest assured, the rugby World Cup will proceed and all matches will be in New Zealand."

With the World Cup due to start on 9 September, reports suggested some games could be moved to Australia.

Snedden, a former international cricketer and chief executive of New Zealand Cricket, added: "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."

The quake was Christchurch's second major tremor in five months and is already New Zealand's deadliest natural disaster in 80 years.

If we can host the rugby World Cup as we intend in Christchurch I would like to do that

John Key - New Zealand Prime Minister

England's Pool B match against Argentina on 10 September is scheduled to be the first match played at Christchurch's Lancaster Park Stadium during the World Cup, which ends on 23 October.

Although there have been no reports of damage to the stadium, which is due to host seven matches, tremors have left roads buckled and buildings toppled across the city damaging the infrastructure required to host World Cup events.

Snedden said his World Cup organising committee will be evaluating Christchurch's ability to stage matches.

"It is too early to talk in any detail about implications for the tournament in Christchurch," added Snedden.

"The next step will involve our organisation leading a thorough process of assessing the city's ability to host the seven matches scheduled to take place there.

"This will involve an assessment of all the key World Cup 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."

Meanwhile, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key says he hopes Christchurch can still host matches in the showpiece tournament.

"If we can host the rugby World Cup as we intend in Christchurch I would like to do that," he said.

"It's some way into the future but it's a very important city to New Zealand. It would be a demonstration Christchurch is back up on its feet.

"One of the issues might be accommodation; there has been substantial damage to hotels."

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see also
New Zealand earthquake toll rises
02 Mar 11 |  Asia-Pacific
In pictures: Earthquake rocks Christchurch
22 Feb 11 |  Asia-Pacific
Borren concern for earthquake victims
22 Feb 11 |  Cricket
Cricket to remember quake victims
22 Feb 11 |  Cricket
Rugby World Cup fixtures and results
26 Sep 11 |  Rugby Union
World Cup guide: New Zealand
14 Feb 11 |  New Zealand

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