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Christchurch RWC

Written By: - Date published: 7:03 am, March 16th, 2011 - 76 comments
Categories: brand key, disaster, john key - Tags: ,

I don’t think that anyone who has been paying attention to events in Christchurch could seriously have expected the city to host a major sporting event like the RWC within a few short months. The city is trashed, the stadium is trashed, no one can guarantee safety to the IRB, it isn’t going to happen.

I can understand Key being initially reluctant to admit this. If hosting was possible then yes the revenue would be a boost to the city. And yes it is quite a symbolic blow to Christchurch to lose the games. But for heaven’s sake. The infrastructure to collect the revenue isn’t there. Far too many Christchurch residents are too concerned about whether they can flush their toilets or drink their water to worry much about symbolism. And quite frankly I think most people would be angry if resources went in to repairing a stadium when there is much more basic infrastructure that needs to be restored first.

So what puzzles me is not Key’s initial reluctance, but his ongoing denial of these realities. Denial to the point where he seems to be the last person in the world maintaining any kind of illusions about Christchurch. Patrick Gower gently puts the boot in:

Christchurch’s Rugby World Cup hopes are effectively over, and Auckland looks set to be the big winner as contingency plans get underway to move the games north. But Prime Minister John Key is still reluctant to admit the existence of “Plan B”. …

Mr Key started the day saying it was time to be “realistic”. “But we all need to be realistic here,” he said on Firstline this morning. So two hours later, 3 News asked Mr Key what he meant. “I think the main point here is being not unrealistic,” he said. So it’s time to be either “realistic” or “not unrealistic”.

That might not make much sense, but it doesn’t sound good either. The seven games are all but gone. …

Having clearly decide the games should be taken away from Christchurch, the Government is concerned about the backlash. It is a hugely sensitive issue, and with the Christchurch memorial being held on Friday, it is trying to work the best way and best day to announced it.

If that is his reasoning then I think Key is in la la land. It’s obvious that the games can’t go ahead, and for that reason I wouldn’t expect any backlash at all from an announcement to that effect. Perhaps he doesn’t want to risk tarnishing Brand Key by being the one to confirm the bad news? Whatever the reason, the longer Key delays, the less like a leader he looks.

Update: Press conference at 3pm today confirmed the obvious, no games in Christchurch. Very sad for the city, but there are more important things going on right now…

All of my posts for March will finish with this note. While life goes on as usual outside Christchurch, let our thoughts be with those who are coping with the aftermath, with the sorrow of so many who were lost, and with the challenges ahead.

76 comments on “Christchurch RWC ”

  1. Tigger 1

    Let’s not forget, hosting the Cup will cost – millions to fix the stadium (anyone seen pics of the pitch – it’s like the local BMX track. Millions to house the guests in hired sea liners. Not to mention, how will they get to and from the accommodation to the games. And what will they do when the games aren’t on? Key just doesn’t want to be the one saying no. Where’s your great, decisive leader now, righties?

  2. Of course the games can be held in the Canterbury region, not just Christchurch, if the point of the games was to foster goodwill, in the interest of sportsmanship, with a view to finding an overall champion team…but it’s not is it ?

    It’s about generating as much revenue for the IRB and whoever else gets to clip the ticket on the way past and it matters fuck all that it’s a game of rugby that can be played on any back paddock or high school sports field.

    Symbolically, i’d like to see the games played in or around Christchurch and to hell with the 5 star accom and support services for the star players and their fatcat nob, corporate sponsors.

    It’s not about them. It’s about the game, 80 minutes on the field. A paddock, some paint, a couple of goal posts and some good keen Cantabrian supporters is all it’ll take.

    Wheres the fucking love ???

  3. lprent 3

    I’d speculate that it is mostly about when it will be announced. The accommodation is stuffed in ChCh. It could only handle token games. Probably what Key is hanging out for.

    More games in Auckland! Bugger. Now I really have to get out of town.

    • Lanthanide 3.1

      Rent your house out to tourists and rent a holiday home in some place nice. Surely you could telecommute for work?

      • Vicky32 3.1.1

        I wish I could do that! I have no interest in thugby and I am dreading the RWC… but my house is a HNZ one…

  4. toad 4

    …“realistic” or “not unrealistic”…

    Reminds me of the infamous quote from the corrupt and bigoted former Queensland Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen:

    There are two very good reasons we will not be doing that. The first is that it would not be right, and the second is that it would be wrong.

  5. big bruv 5

    Christ!…the left get more desperate with each passing day.

    Good luck in politicising the earthquake and the certain loss of RWC games in Christchurch, trying to blame John Key for the loss of games should see the entire city turn blue come November.

    Keep it up..remember, John Key eats babies, he also caused the earthquake.

    • Rob 5.1

      Allah!…. the right gets more spooked with the thought of losing the election with each passing day.

      Good luck in trying to turn commentary about a leader’s ability to lead into a simplistic the left blames DonKey for the earthquake … should see the entire country turn red come November

      • toad 5.1.1

        Or green, perhaps, given some of the stupid utterances from Goff of recent times.

      • r0b 5.1.2

        Heh – nice one Rob. Excellent handle too by the way!

      • big bruv 5.1.3


        Over 10,000 people showed what they think of Key’s leadership at the Basin Reserve last Sunday.

        You guys are so blinded by small minded hatred that you refuse to see that the people love him, he is the most popular PM in living memory.

        Going after Key is not going to win you guys the election, and, please…nobody is spooked by Labour and nobody is spooked by Goff.

        • RobC

          Big Bruv

          Over 10,000 showed what they thought of a worthwhile fundraising event.

          You guys are so blinded by a large lead in the polls that you refuse to see that the people are beginning to tire of him, he is the most popular PM in living memory in danger of losing an unloseable election.

          I do agree – going after Key is not going to win Labour (bad assumption on your part saying “you guys”) the election. Please, if you’re not spooked then fk off back to Kiwiblog and let us enjoy our supposed small minded hatred amongst ourselves.

          PS: I’ve changed my handle – too many friggin Rob’s on this site

        • r0b

          I’ll never understand the boner that you rwnjs have for Key.

          And just for the record, he isn’t “the most popular PM in living memory”. Key peaked at 58%, guess which recent Labour PM peaked at 59…

          • Pete

            58% is a lot of people to be classified as RWNJ – in fact from what I’ve seen the real RWNJs are not in that 58%, Key is nowhere near radical enough for them.

  6. grumpy 6

    The glee in which Australian and then Auckland media and business interests pounced on Christchurch’s hosting of RWC games (even before the final tremors were felt) was obscene.

    6 months is a long time and anyone who has lived here since the September quake knows liquifaction is quite quickly cleaned up. The actual damage to the pitch is superficial. The damage to buildings at AMI is likely to be relatively minor.

    As for accommodation, apart from a few hotels, most are OK but inside the cordon. Grand Chancellor is buggerred and so too (probably) the Copthorne, the rest seem to be either OK or minor damage (easily fixed before the RWC).

    • Tigger 6.1

      Yes, but we’re talking about limited resources being used to, for example, clean up a rugby field rather than, say, for roading, water, housing. I’m not saying it’s all about necessities only, but there has to be some type of grading of problems. And to me RWC is a luxury and surely luxuries can’t be afforded at present.

      • grumpy 6.1.1

        Nah, The resources needed to sort out AMI are minimal. The issue is the accommodation in the central city.

        The Copthorne is said to be on a lean, the Grand Chancellor is about to be demolished. So Hotel (part of the Novotel Group) is right under it so could be damaged in the demolition. Most of the others are pretty much OK but being in the locked down area have not started fixing yet. Fixing the infrastructure will sort out the RWC and vice versa.

        • lprent

          Yep. That is my understanding as well. The stadium is not a major issue. The problem is how do you accommodate the influx of visitors in a city where the the infrastructure is fragile. How do you stop the diversion of effort going from the existing citizens to visitors within the available timeframes.

          Why would you even try?

          • grumpy

            It appear the infrastructural issues are mainly in the East and do not so much affect the Central City.
            Power cables are munted, the 66kV oil filled cables need overseas expertise since Orion made it’s local expert workforce redundant. The “T” joints to houses have pulled apart so whole suburbs need new cables laid underground.
            Sewerage and water, although more damage are not as technical to fix. The central city’s problems are removing broken buildings, infrastucture as such is not a badly stuffed as the suburbs.
            I (and engineers I have spoken too) can’t see it as being insurmountable in time for RWC.

  7. Lanthanide 7

    “And quite frankly I think most people would be angry if resources went in to repairing a stadium when there is much more basic infrastructure that needs to be restored first.”

    Yes, that’s a facet of the issue. But if the stadium and pitch hadn’t been seriously damaged, then it would have been much more feasible, yes? And they probably didn’t have a really good picture of just what the damage and repair costs would be until early last week, I would guess.

    So in terms of timing, I don’t think they’re really being too far off. Key should’ve come out and said something this last Monday, though. With the Friday memorial coming out he’s really stuffed.

    If he is in fact holding out for some of the minor games (which I think is a high probability) but knows that the semi-finals and English hosting is gone, he should have said that the big games were gone on Monday and said “we still hold hope for hosting the smaller games, and the state of them will be advised within the next 2 weeks”. Then if there was bad news on that front he could delay it till next week, and if there was good news he could have announced it on Friday.

  8. ianmac 8

    There has to be a plan for Key avoiding giving an answer. I wonder why? It may be that if he hangs back for a few more days, the population gets used to the idea of Christchurch losing the games. When finally it is announced Key can say we fought hard for a solution for Christchurch but by then the issue has been diffused by gradual acceptance.
    If Key had done his usual and blurted out an answer it would have hurt him. Sadly he is learning to be a bit more cautious about off the cuff comments.

  9. Rich 9

    It would be a nice gesture if say 30% of the seats for the finals and semis of the RWC were given free to Christchurch people on a ballot basis. Something to look forward to,

    If the RWC was actually the international *sporting* event it claims to be (as opposed to a money making business venture subsidised by the NZ taxpayer), the IRB would do this.

  10. Tel 10

    Here’s how Keyster is going to play it out:

    He’ll go live on TV1 (because Rick Ellis wants to have Keyster’s baby, but that’s just a rumour) and announce blubbing to the nation that there was nothing he could do to save the situation. That nasty Thugby Board threatened to pack up their Subbuteo game and take it to another town without his knowledge or approval. What we can’t see at this point is the bucket of freshly chopped onions directly below Keyster purposely out of shot as he feigns remorse and tears for the poor people of Christchurch, who wont be able to get their pre November dose of panem et circenses.

  11. randal 11

    maybe I will and maybe I wont.
    we will move on and rugby will be the winner on the day.
    full credit to the earthquake.

  12. gobsmacked 12

    Key has already told us the answer. But nobody noticed, including John Key.


    NZ Herald reports:

    “Yesterday Mr Key said he hoped to make a recommendation to the IRB – who make the final decision – and announce the outcome by the end of this week.

    “We all acknowledge it’s challenging, but that doesn’t mean it’s not impossible,” Key said yesterday.

    If your English is better then the Prime Minister’s, you’ll understand what he said. Obviously he didn’t.

    I wonder if John Key’s linguistic incoherence will make him the first leader in NZ’s history to start a war by mistake? (“I am not considering rejecting a decision to send in troops …” )

    • Rob 12.1

      His use of double-negatives is funny (as noted in the post when asked to explain what he meant by realistic … “I think the main point here is being not unrealistic,”)

  13. Stan 13

    Key is doing his usual non-committal stuff waiting for someone else (IRB?) to make the call. That way, he avoids being the bearer of bad news and can shift the blame. Leadership? What’s that? Where’s his “Buck stops here” sign that US President Harry Truman had on his desk?

    • grumpy 13.1

      The IRB will go with the money. Christchurch had to fight like hell to get any real games as the IRB got into bed with NZRFU Auckland interests.

      The IRB’s first preference will be to move the games to Sydney, the NZRFU will have to fight hard to keep them in NZ, let alone Christchurch.

      They should be kept in the South Island, if not Christchurch, then jointly between Christchurch and Dunedin.

      • Lanthanide 13.1.1

        Dunedin doesn’t have the capacity to host the semi-finals. With CHCH losing out most of it’s accommodation, they don’t either.

        • grumpy

          Christchurch has not lost “most of it’s accommodation”, as a local you should know better.

  14. gobsmacked 14

    So now we know:

    “Rugby World Cup Minister Murray McCully will front for media at 3pm in Christchurch this afternoon to announce what the Government thinks should happen to the games. ” (Stuff reports)

    Murray McCully. Not John Key. The Brand must be protected at all costs, and is only for Good News. When Key doesn’t front, you know what’s coming.

    So, Christchurch RWC is a goner.

    • Carol 14.1

      gobsmacked, that explains the quaestions from labour int he House today. They were asking a series of supplementaries relating to this:


      2. Hon PHIL GOFF to the Minister for the Rugby World Cup: What advice has he, his Government or Rugby New Zealand 2011 been given on Christchurch’s ability to host Rugby World Cup matches later this year?

      Joyce answered on behalf of the minister (if I recall correctly). He kind of sidestepped the question and said that the meeting about it was not finished. The speaker responded to Labour points of order that this must mean there hadn’t yet been any decisions/advice. Labour was implying that the Minister and Key already knew what the decision is.

      • Armchair Critic 14.1.1

        Labour was implying that the Minister and Key already knew what the decision is.
        And clearly they did know what the decision would be.
        The evasion by Mr Joyce was very effective, and I asked myself whether Labour had picked the correct battle. In a couple of days no one will care whether National knew or not.

      • gobsmacked 14.1.2

        John Key couldn’t be in the House. Or in Christchurch. Was he washing his hair?

        Two press conferences:

        The Hobbit, last year. Timed to go live in the 6 pm news. With John Key – and nobody else.

        Today. Everybody else (McCully, Snedden, Parker, IRB guys, etc). John Key disappears.

        • Herodotus

          There was a meeting of the AMI trust on Monday just gone. The outcomes of that meeting were in enbargo until 3:00 today. Have not heard of any outcomes.
          So since Monday afternoon there was a few in the know. Now do we expect that a question in parliament like this to be answered, when there is already in place an agreement to withhold the info until a specified date and time.
          To some it could be seen as cheap politickin in a time that is not warrented

        • Jim Nald

          Hey Mayor Bob Parker & Friendz
          Are you reading this?
          Are you feeling screwed by Key?
          Welcome to the crowd.

  15. Armchair Critic 15

    So now we know.
    The money over-rides the spirit of the game.
    Murray McCully is explaining why they can’t do it right now.

  16. Colonial Viper 16

    On Christchurch losing the RWC

    McCully: the Fall Guy
    John Key: Wave Bye Bye

  17. Pete 17

    John Key gets criticised for being involved in sport and media on Sunday.
    John Key gets criticised for not being involved in sport and media today.

    Same old. Life goes on.

    Sad but inevitable news on the RWC for Christchurch.

    • gobsmacked 17.1

      Pete, you think you’re being clever, but really you’re just being monumentally dull.

      Care to engage in debate at all? Do you think the PM should have fronted the decision today? Yes or no?

      • Pete 17.1.1

        No. Why should he?

        Maybe he was doing something else like earthquake recovery planning.

        • gobsmacked

          Or watching the flying pigs?

          You’re either incredibly naive, or a tedious troll. I’ll be generous and go for the former.

          Can I sell you a bridge? Special price for you!

        • Pascal's bookie

          Do you think he would have fronted if the decision went the other way?

          • Pete

            I have no idea and I don’t really think it matters. McCully is Minister of RWC and Minsiter of Earthquake so it was appropriate he was there. I don’t think the country will suffer drastically from Key’s absence, nor would it have if he was there.

            Do you think it matters that he wasn’t there?

        • Colonial Viper

          Maybe he was doing something else like earthquake recovery planning.

          Or maybe he was just trying to avoid bad PR from this decision.

          Yeah that’s more likely, since the last time Key did earthquake recovery planning he was making up demolition numbers up off the top of his head.

  18. ianmac 18

    McCulley: “Mr McCully announced the Government will grant $4.1 million to allow the turf repair work to commence immediately at AMI Stadium so it will be ready for next year’s season. ”
    That was quick and of course he has his priority right. Ummm. Sewer or Turf? Ummm Turf of course!

    • Bright Red 18.1

      So, let me get this straight. The one year-long plan that the government has announced for the Chch recovery is the turf at AMI stadium.

      Where will the 100,000 families in damaged homes be in a year? Who knows!
      Will the turf at AMI stadium be fixed in a year’s time? Yes!

    • Colonial Viper 18.2


    • KJT 18.3

      I do not have much time for Key, but getting the stadium and other cultural icons back is just as important to the cities recovery.

  19. MrSmith 19

    Just heard Key say “they expect to make another 10 mil moving the Canterbury games to Auckland” what an insensitive prick and does he love those round numbers, what a Zero he is, theirs a round number for you Wonkey, hope someone throws some eggs at him at the memorial .

    • KJT 19.1

      I hope they still have $50 flights for Christchurch people to watch the match.

      • TonyP 19.1.1

        I thought I heard on One News that the government was going to assist those with tickets for the ChCh games in some way to get to the rescheduled games.

  20. simon 20

    A heart-warming royal foto-fest is far more preferable for the Minister of Paparazzi than a non-telegenic bad news story. Key’s persistent ‘optimism’ in spite of the facts proves him ever less connected, competent and qualfied for the enormous task at hand.

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