England set for Christchurch visit
August 23, 2011
Christchurch was destroyed by the February earthquake © Getty Images
England and Australia will pay a visit to the earthquake-stricken Christchurch during the 2011 World Cup.
Christchurch was due to host England during their World Cup campaign - along with seven games - but due to the devastating earthquake in February, Martin Johnson's side were forced into a late re-think and relocated to Dunedin. And England will pay a visit to Christchurch on September 7 ahead of the tournament opener against Argentina in Dunedin on September 10.
Australia will travel to the city on September 28 and will take in a tour of the new Fanzone at Hagley Park, a fund raising lunch before making visits to schools and hospitals.
The decision has received widespread praise, especially from tournament organiser's Rugby New Zealand 2011. Martin Snedden - RNZ 2011's CEO - paid tribute to the announcement saying: "I thank Martin Johnson and Australian coach Robbie Deans for making team members available for these visits during what is an intense time for any World Cup team.
"But I know they will mean a lot to fans in Christchurch and the wider Canterbury area who should have been looking forward to seven World Cup 2011 matches had it not been for the tragic events of just over six months ago."
Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said: "It was very disappointing to lose our matches, but Cantabrians are still getting into the spirit of Rugby World Cup 2011 and these team visits will certainly help them to feel part of the hype. We look forward to welcoming members from both the England and Australian teams to the Garden City."
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