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Thursday, 18 April, 2002, 12:06 GMT 13:06 UK
NZ loses Rugby World Cup
Australia will host every game of the 2003 World Cup
Australia will host every 2003 World Cup game
The 2003 Rugby World Cup will be held in Australia alone, the International Rugby Board (IRB) has announced.

At a meeting in Dublin on Thursday, the IRB finally ratified Australia's plans to go it alone and criticised New Zealand's "wholly inappropriate behaviour" over the tournament's staging.

In a statement, the IRB said: "The finals of Rugby World Cup 2003 should be staged in Australia alone.

There is little doubt that relationships have been damaged as a result of these unhappy events
IRB statement
"The recommendation from the Board of RWCL followed the refusal earlier this year by the New Zealand Rugby Football Union (NZRU) to accept the terms of the offer to host part of the Tournament.

"Generous accommodations made by RWCL to meet the needs and problems of the NZRU were repaid with consistent failures and wholly inappropriate behaviour.

"The outstanding Australian proposal held an attraction, a professionalism and a logic which were irresistible.

"The IRB now holds out the hope that all parties will accept the final outcome with dignity, and that the truly international spirit which cements the sport will quickly heal any wounds."

The sport's showpiece tournament, held every four years, was originally scheduled to be held in both Australia and New Zealand.

But World Cup organisers withdrew their invitation to New Zealand to co-host the tournament last month after officials refused to sign the sub-host agreement.

New Zealand were ultimately dropped as hosts because of concerns over their ability to provide venues without pre-booked advertising and seating.

The two countries previously co-hosted the inaugural 1987 tournament.

Aussie pledge

Australian rugby chiefs announced they would stage the best World Cup in history, after being handed sole ownership.

John O'Neill, managing director of the Australia Rugby Union, made his vow just minutes after the International Rugby Board's decision.

"We have been obsessive about hosting this World Cup, and with good reason," he said.

"World rugby has a great opportunity to stage an event of the highest quality, and the ARU possesses the expertise to do that.

The decision has been taken and we must now live with it and refocus
NZRFU chairman Murray McCaw
O'Neill claimed the New Zealand Rugby Football Union had been "the master of its own destiny".

He added: "I am certain that New Zealanders will get behind the All Blacks, as they always do.

"Needless to say, there is some healing to be done, and we will start that process by increasing the number of RWC tickets available to New Zealand supporters.

"We have set some critical timelines to ensure this event will be every bit as good as people expect."

New Zealand Rugby Football Union chairman Murray McCaw claimed the IRB's decision had been based solely on financial considerations.

"Money has won the day," he said. "The NZRFU argued strongly that if the objective of Rugby World Cups is to grow the game by showcasing it to the world, then there was no better place than New Zealand to host or co-host it.

"In the end, however, it still wasn't enough to convince the IRB Council. They appeared to put a greater emphasis on the extra money the Australian solo bid brought in ahead of the original joint hosting arrangement."

However, McCaw indicated the NZRFU would accept the decision and not take the legal action which had been threatened.

"We are extremely disappointed," he said.

"New Zealand has put its heart and soul into this effort. But the decision has been taken and we must now live with it and refocus."

BBC Sport's Alistair Hignell
"New Zealand's economy is going to lose money"
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