RWC: Fate of Christchurch games expected today

An announcement on whether Rugby World Cup games can be held in Christchurch is expected at 3pm today in the wake of top level meetings in the city.

International Rugby Board (IRB) representatives are meeting in Christchurch today and sources told NZPA that depending on that meeting a decision about the games would be made.

It was expected Rugby World Cup Minister Murray McCully would attend along with other key parties.

A news conference is set to be held at 3pm where McCully is expected to announce the outcome of the meeting.

Cabinet minister Steven Joyce says IRB officials want to be as fair as they can in making the decision - which is why they are talking to the Government about it.

"They want to make a decision with everyone around the table coming to the same decision if at all possible," he told Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking.

Mr Joyce says the decision has not been made yet.

Christchurch had been set to host two quarterfinals and five group-stage games, but damage from the February 22 earthquake has called that into question.

The IRB has the final say on whether the scheduled games will go ahead.

Already international reports have said the IRB had already decided to rule out Christchurch as an option.

A senior International Rugby Board source told Britain's Daily Telegraph an engineers' structural report of AMI Stadium, due to be published this week, is expected to be "bleak", and the city will lose its hosting rights.

The Telegraph website reports the stadium has sustained not only serious liquefaction to the pitch, but the engineer's report will confirm structural damage to the stands.

The Telegraph also reported the English rugby team, who were to be staying at the damaged Crowne Plaza hotel, are now likely to be based in Auckland for the tournament, which begins in September.

- NZPA/NEWSTALK ZB/HERALD ONLINE

- NZ Herald

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