5 Sep 2008

Wellington, Christchurch to host rugby quarterfinals

6:09 am on 5 September 2008

Wellington and Christchurch have won key games in the final rounds of the 2011 Rugby World Cup, but Hamilton and North Harbour have missed out.

The Rugby New Zealand 2011 board made the announcement in Wellington on Thursday afternoon.

Auckland's Eden Park has already been confirmed as the host venue for the final and semifinals of the tournament.

On Thursday it was announced that Auckland will also host the bronze final, while Christchurch and Wellington will each host two quarterfinals.

The were smiles and sighs of relief from the many civic authorities in attendance, many of whom now say planning can get underway in earnest.

Hamilton and North Harbour placed unsuccessful bids, but officials from both areas say they are still hopeful of taking significant roles.

World Cup organisers still have to allocate the 40 pool matches and 20 team bases, which they say will transform the event into a truly national affair.

Rugby New Zealand chief executive Martin Snedden says the decision of his board, which was made on Wednesday, was ratified overnight at the Board of Rugby World Cup Ltd meeting in Dublin.

Eden Park upgrade

Eden Park, which hosted the first World Cup final in 1987, is undergoing a NZ$241 million refurbishment that will see its capacity boosted to 60,000 as part of a Government-backed tournament programme.

Wellington's nine-year-old Westpac Stadium can seat 39,500 people while Christchurch is redeveloping its AMI Stadium to have a capacity of 41,000 in time for 2011.

The quarterfinals will be played on October 7, 8 and 9, in 2011.

The semifinals will be played on October 15 and 16, while the final is scheduled for Labour Weekend (October 22-23).

South Africa beat England to win the last World Cup, held in France last year.