The Rugby World Cup winning All Blacks will play one of six domestic Test matches in 2012 at a specially revamped stadium which will be the interim home of rugby in Christchurch.
The Crusaders Investec Super Rugby team and the Canterbury ITM Cup provincial team will play their 2012 seasons at the redeveloped stadium to be built on Rugby League Park in Addington.
New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) Chairman Mike Eagle and Canterbury RFU CEO Hamish Riach today announced that Christchurch will host an All Blacks Test match following the government’s commitment to the upgrade of Rugby League Park.
The traditional home of rugby in Christchurch, AMI Stadium, was severely damaged in the February earthquake, and its future remains uncertain making it unavailable for 2012. The $20 million cost for the redeveloped stadium will be underwritten by the government with funding support from the Christchurch City Council and the New Zealand Rugby Union.
Mike Eagle welcomed the government’s announcement as an important investment in the community and in Canterbury’s sports and entertainment infrastructure.
“We are delighted for the residents of Christchurch that they will have a venue capable of hosting major international concerts and sporting fixtures. Christchurch has not hosted an All Blacks Test match since the Bledisloe Cup match in August 2010. Christchurch will host the All Blacks v Ireland at Rugby League Park in June – which will be a great occasion for Cantabrians. Our full domestic Test match schedule – the three-Test Steinlager Series and the expanded SANZAR international competition with Australia, South Africa and inaugural participants Argentina – will be announced in full later this afternoon,” Mr Eagle said.
Hamish Riach said the redevelopment of Rugby League Park was an important part of rebuilding Christchurch. While the Park would host other fixtures, he was delighted the Crusaders and Canterbury Rugby would have a home base in Christchurch in 2012.
“We know that rugby has played an important part in helping people to rebuild and put their lives together. We saw during the Rugby World Cup and in particular when the victorious All Blacks came to Christchurch with the Webb Ellis Cup, just how important sport can be for uniting a community in challenging times. It has been a tough year for everyone in Canterbury, and this is a huge step towards reclaiming our city. We are delighted we will be able to see our own teams play here, and that we will be able to host our Rugby World Cup Champions in 2012,” Riach said.
The new redeveloped stadium at Rugby League Park will have seating for 17,000, including covered seating for 8500 people and corporate hospitality facilities. Additional temporary seating can be added, to enable a capacity of up to 25,000.
Construction will start on Rugby League Park next week and it is expected to be completed by March next year, in time for the 2012 Investec Super Rugby season.
The new temporary stadium will be run by a Trust and will have a lifespan of three to five years.