x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Christchurch's rallying call to the rugby world

Bob Parker, the mayor of Christchurch, has visited the AMI Stadium, which was damaged in the February 22 quake that killed at least 166 people, and described the pitch as looking like a crazy golf course.

Bob Parker, the mayor of the earthquake-ravaged city of Christchurch, has issued a rallying cry to world rugby and the England team in particular.

Parker has visited the AMI Stadium, which was damaged in the February 22 quake that killed at least 166 people, and described the pitch as looking like a crazy golf course.

Christchurch was scheduled to host five pool matches and two quarter-finals during the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, which begins in September. Parker is confident that the city, which will host England's Prince William next week, can clean itself up in time for rugby's extravaganza and should be given a chance to host those matches.

"This could be one of the most inspirational parts of the Rugby World Cup we will ever see," Parker said. "If the Prince can come ... I think the English rugby team would feel less than men if they cannot come down."

There is no doubt that being in the scrubbed up AMI stadium for Argentina's encounter against England on September 10 will be one of sport's most poignant moments. There are 50,000 tickets left on sale for the matches in the south island city. Anyone who has hesitated since last month about going to the land of the long white cloud for the World Cup should perhaps think again.

Pick up the phone, click your mouse, however you buy those tickets it will give the organisers a reason to keep the matches where they are and help a stricken city get back up from its knees.