Rugby may not return to AMI Stadium
June 27, 2011
AMI Stadium was decommissioned in the wake of the earthquake that hit Christchurch in February © Getty Images
New Zealand Rugby Union chief executive Steve Tew has revealed that rugby may never return to the earthquake-damaged AMI Stadium in Christchurch.
The recently-renovated 45,000-capacity venue, formerly known as Lancaster Park and Jade Stadium, was ruled unfit for use following the Magnitude 6.3 tremor that hit the city in February. As a result it was stripped of its status as a Rugby World Cup venue, losing seven high-profile fixtures in the process, and Tew has admitted a timetable for rugby's return to the site is "not really known".
Asked to estimate when the Crusaders or the All Blacks may next take to the field, Tew's assessment ranged from "early next year, to a long, long time away to if ever at all".
Tew insists what happens to the ground, that opened in 1881 and hosted its first All Blacks Test in 1913, will be up to the Christchurch community and the government with re. He also revealed that the NZRU were considering re-developing Rugby Park and Rugby League Park in Christchurch and that the Crusaders must face the prospect of once again playing all their Super Rugby fixtures away from home.
The ground is being regularly assessed in the wake of a series of aftershocks and the All Blacks have provisional plans in place to stage a Test in Christchurch next year although an alternative venue is also being explored.
However, the All Blacks remain committed to using Christchurch as a training base in the build up to their crunch World Cup pool clash with France in Auckland on September 24. "We have taken stock of that with the continuing aftershocks. But the All Blacks are going there ... they remain committed to that (camp)," Tew said.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies
Tom Hamilton runs the rule over just where the six countries stand ahead of the global gathering in September