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Pattaya Daily News

10 March 2011 :: 16:03:44 pm 51288

Rugby-World Cup venue needs major work after earthquake

WELLINGTON, March 10 (Reuters) - Lancaster Park, one of the main venues for this year's rugby World Cup, needs major work after the Christchurch earthquake but should be ready for the tournament, the city's mayor Bob Parker said on Thursday.
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“The playing surface has been very badly damaged. It’s like a putt putt (miniature) golf course in there with mounds and rolls,” Parker told New Zealand’s TV3 on Thursday after he toured the venue on Wednesday.

“The surface itself has stood up amazingly well; it’s what has happened underneath it, so clearly for that to be used as a game-playing surface it will need to be completely rebuilt.

“We will have six months to do that, I think that’s achievable. It’s a push, but I think we can do that.”

Christchurch, New Zealand’s second-largest city, was hit by a 6.3-magnitude earthquake on Feb. 22 which killed at least 166 people and levelled much of the city centre.

Parker said the stands at Lancaster Park, which is scheduled to host five pool games and two quarter-finals at the Sept. 9-Oct. 23 World Cup, were damaged.

New Zealand’s central government is expected to receive engineers’ reports on the extent of the damage on Thursday and will discuss them with the International Rugby Board (IRB) before making public any decisions.

“I think the question the IRB will be asking is that given that all that has to be done and that there are tight deadlines, and (while) we know it’s vital and important to the people of Christchurch, we can’t put the whole of Rugby World Cup at risk,” Parker said.

“I think we understand that, but what we’re saying is: ‘Mate we can do it, have faith, it will be different to what it was before the earthquake but this will be one of the most inspirational World Cups you will ever see’.

“It will motivate our people, it will give us a target to go for and will give us something as a province to be proud of.”

Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Clare Fallon; http://af.reuters.com

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