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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Key hits out at Rugby World Cup critic

Christchurch earthquake: Key hits out at Rugby World Cup critic

Last updated 13:10 11/03/2011
Prime Minister John Key has angrily dismissed an English rugby writer critical of plans to hold Rugby World Cup matches in Christchurch.

Writer Peter Bills claims even if AMI Stadium can be repaired in time, the city is too unsafe because it's impossible to guarantee there won't be another destructive quake.

"I think he should stick to writing rugby columns and avoid becoming a seismologist," Key told reporters.

He also dismissed suggestions, advanced by Bills, that another big earthquake is yet to hit Christchurch.

"No, that is not the way I have seen the advice presented."

Key said it was only Bills' view and delivered from England and without the full reports the Government had.

Key said no one was in a position to decide on whether the cup could be held in Christchurch. It was purely speculative at the moment.

He said Rugby World Cup Minister Murray McCully would get geotechnical reports on the stadium over the weekend.

It would be discussed in Cabinet and then with the International Rugby Board.

"I know there is quite large superficial damage to the stadium," he said.

They did not know what structural damage there was.

Key said the buildings were insured.

"The land, or the turf is not insured and that presents another bill for somebody and who that somebody is will involve discussions."

Key said the remolding of the turf would be major work, particularly to remove the sand and build up the drainage again.

Put to him that rugby games had been played on worse before he replied: "We are looking for a good experience here."

It was a powerful message to hold the matches in Christchurch but the country had to be realistic.

"Whatever happens the cup is going ahead in New Zealand and it will be a successful event."

It was difficult to identify how many hotel beds had been lost in Christchurch at this stage.

Key said the ultimate decision would be taken by the IRB.

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