British Lions plan for all dangers, including earthquakes, on NZ tour

British & Irish Lions coaching team, including head coach Warren Gatland (left). Photo supplied.
British & Irish Lions coaching team, including head coach Warren Gatland (left). Photo supplied.

Preparations for this year's British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand include contingency plans for an earthquake.

Numerous "what if" scenarios have been planned for, including back-up stadiums, should the test venues be damaged by a quake during the 10-match tour in June and July.

The welfare of the players has been at the forefront of the planning. The Lions have already switched hotels in Wellington from their original choice, because of safety concerns should an earthquake strike.

The revelations come just a day after New Zealand was hit by its latest earthquake near Christchurch, the city that will host the third tour match between the Lions and the Crusaders on June 10.

There have been 19 "large" earthquakes, above 6.0 magnitude, recorded since Christchurch was devastated in February 2011 by a quake that killed 185 people.

Lancaster Park, the famous Christchurch stadium where the Lions played their first test against the All Blacks on the 2005 tour, remains closed because of the damage.

The Lions have consulted with the New Zealand Rugby Union, the police and local authorities as part of the planning, and undertook a "dry run" of the complete tour during a logistics trip in January.

Security firm Veritas, who worked with the Lions on the 2009 and 2013 tours of South Africa and Australia, have also been hired to provide protection for the players.

Plans for illness to key coaching personnel have also been put in place.

"We look at every issue or problem that may arise, and have a plan," said Lions chief executive John Feehan. "The obvious issue is an earthquake and that is something we have to factor in.

"You have to look at all of the options, basically. So, for instance, if there was a significant earthquake in the test venue on the day of the game, what do you do?

"Maybe you have to delay the game and move it 50 miles down the road. It is just a fact of life in an earthquake zone.

"If there is another bad earthquake in Christchurch, we could move to a different venue. It is an act of God, so there is nothing you can do about it, but you have to have some sort of plan.

"We had to move from where we thought we were going to stay in Wellington, because we were not happy that the original venue would have been safe enough.

"It would have been safe enough by the time we got there, but that is in the absence of another earthquake.

"We have moved to a venue where we know the building has been built with earthquakes in mind."

- Daily Telegraph UK

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