Johnson supports Christchurch decision
March 16, 2011
AMI Stadium was damaged during the recent Christchurch earthquake © Getty Images
England manager Martin Johnson has lent his support to the decision to move Rugby World Cup matches away from earthquake-ravaged Christchurch.
England were due to be based in the city, which was originally expected to host seven matches, including two of England's Pool matches and one of Scotland's.
Their earmarked training base at the Queen Elizabeth II Stadium had already been declared unsafe in the wake 6.3 magnitude quake, which caused widespread destruction and resulted in an expected death toll of 180 people.
The two quarter-finals scheduled for Christchurch have been moved to Auckland while England are waiting for confirmation of where their clashes against Argentina and Georgia will be staged.
"We feel for the people of Christchurch who are still suffering following the tragic earthquake," Johnson said. "We know how keen they were to play a role in the World Cup and we were looking forward to being based there. But we accept this is the right decision for the tournament and for New Zealand based on all the expert advice.
"We are working closely with Rugby World Cup Limited to understand the possible options for our Pool games and what that means for us in terms of a training base but understand the complexities involved so we are comfortable with a short delay while it is all being worked out.
"Once we are clear on the location of our Pool games we will send someone out to recce the new training and match venues and accommodation. For now we are just focused on this weekend's game in Dublin."
Scotland coach Andy Robinson echoed Johnson's sentiments. The Scots are also awaiting further information about alternative venues, with their Pool match against Argentina affected by the changes.
"This is clearly a difficult time for the people of Christchurch and Canterbury," he said. "We will await the announcement of the rescheduled venue for our third Pool game, against Argentina, but we are sure that wherever the game is staged the Scotland team and supporters will be given a traditionally warm New Zealand greeting."
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