Christchurch to host the Kiwis in 2017 Rugby League World Cup
The Kiwis-Scotland game will be the first rugby league test staged in Christchurch since 2006 when New Zealand beat Great Britain 18-14 in a Tri-Nations game at Jade Stadium.Christchurch will host the Kiwis for the first time in 11 years and also stage a Rugby League World Cup quarterfinal in 2017.
Canterbury Rugby League chairman Andrew McCormick hailed the confirmation of the Rugby League World Cup 2017 (RLWC2017) draw as “a boost in the arm” for the sport.
The city will also host a quarter-final on November 18, potentially Samoa v Fiji.
The Kiwis – likely to be led by South Islander Simon Mannering – will play Scotland at AMI Stadium on November 4, 2017.
It will be the 20th test in Christchurch since New Zealand beat Australia 26-10 at Sydenham Park in 1919.
Christchurch was set to host the 2011 Anzac rugby league test between the Kiwis and Australia, but it was moved to the Gold Coast after the February 2011 earthquake destroyed the former AMI Stadium in Phillipstown.
The sold-out sign was out for the last big rugby league game in Christchurch – the Penrith Panthers-Warriors NRL match last May.
McCormick said it was “great news” that the Kiwis will return to Christchurch and “we get to see some playoff footy. A knock-out game’s not to be sneezed at.
“It’s good for the game in the province, hard on the heels of the success of the Penrith-Warriors game.
“Having the Kiwis in town again is long overdue. It’ll be good to get that exposure for kids who desire the play the game.”
Christchurch-based former Kiwis coach Frank Endacott said the RLWC 2017 games would be “good for the city, not just for rugby league, but for sport in general”.
“We are starved of international football down here, and quality football like the NRL.
“To get seventeen and a half thousand people for the Warriors-Panthers game shows there’s a lot of interest in rugby league, not just in Christchurch, but in the South Island.”
Endacott said having two games in November would ensure “a nice, firm pitch”.
“It will be a terrific spectacle for our game.”
The Christchurch City Council pitched in to help secure the two games, council head of events Richard Attwood said.
“It’s a very competitive environment to get these types of tournaments. Now the draw has come out, you can see the breadth and width of the competition with games in Papua New Guinea along with Perth and Darwin.
Attwood said it was “fantastic” to get the Kiwis’ game and a quarterfinal and good “to take the game back to the home of rugby league in Christchurch, [the former] Rugby League Park.”
RLWC2017 chief executive Michael Brown, said the support of the New Zealand Government and host cities has ensured that Rugby League fans from across the state will see the world’s best teams battle it out for the Paul Barrière Trophy.
“New Zealanders have a very proud history of supporting rugby league and we know these passionate rugby league communities will embrace co-hosting the sport’s pinnacle event,” Brown said.
“In planning this tournament, we made a deliberate decision to take the Rugby League World Cup to more fans than any World Cup has done before.
AT A GLANCE
2017 RUGBY LEAGUE WORLD CUP GAMES IN NEW ZEALAND
Oct 28: Pool – Round 1 New Zealand vs Samoa Mt Smart, Auckland
Nov 4 Pool – Round 2 New Zealand vs Scotland Christchurch Stadium
Nov 4: Pool – Round 2 Samoa vs Tonga Waikato Stadium, Hamilton
Nov 11: Pool – Round 3 New Zealand vs Tonga Waikato Stadium, Hamilton
Nov 18: Quarter Final Christchurch Stadium
Nov 18: Quarter Final Wellington Regional Stadium
Nov 25: Semi Final Mt Smart, Auckland
Tony Smith – The Press