Mother Earth impacts RWC

2011-02-24 08:59

JJ Harmse

So we are getting ready for week two of Vodacom Super Rugby, week five of Varsity Shield, week four of Varsity Cup, week one of Vodacom Cup and we are halfway there in the Six Nations.

Man, how lucky can one be? Well, it seems very, if you consider what has just happened to our rugby friends in Christchurch.

Natural disasters are always hard to swallow because they are so unpredictable and normally result in a huge loss of life.

Having travelled to Christchurch on a couple of occasions in the past, it is very upsetting to see how the earthquake has affected those areas that I remember well.

It was certainly quite weird to see the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane flooded a month or so ago, but is tragic to see the beautiful cathedral in the city centre of Christchurch destroyed.

There are many South Africans who has made this lovely city their home in recent years and we hope they are all fine and in good health.

It was good to see SA Rugby and the Bulls putting out statements in solidarity with the Crusaders in particular, but NZ Rugby in general.

As Victor Matfield indicated, many of those who extended hospitality and courtesy towards the Bulls and Springboks while down there on tour might be in dire need of help and it is not a nice thought.

An equally disturbing thought will be the options the IRB have with regards to Christchurch's hosting rights during the upcoming Rugby World Cup in September and October. As things stand at the moment, the last thing one would want to do is to deal the people of Christchurch another blow while they are down.

To tell them they will lose their games while they are still trying to get people out of the rubble, might sound very cruel, but unfortunately, time is running out for all those concerned.

I am no expert on earthquakes and trembles, but you need not to be to see that there is currently something not right with Mother Earth’s stomach in the Christchurch area.

Although no one can predict there will not be another quake, I would say, there is a fair chance there will.

And as no one can guarantee no loss of life if it happens again, it will be very naive from the IRB and the organising committee to presume that nothing will or could happen and that the thousands and thousands visiting the city will be safe.

The earthquake, if it is due, will happen with or without the RWC in progress or not.

As many of you have probably started you touring plans for your trip for the New Zealand showdown, it is important for all the millions of rugby fans they are expecting to know where to go. It is as simple as that.

Luckily for the South Africans fan, they only need to travel between Auckland and Wellington to follow the Boks, but England and Australia are among those teams playing pool games down south. Can you imagine any of them being hurt or killed because of another quake?

New Zealand was marketed as a stadium of three million people. Well, it seems the south stand is quite unsafe at the moment. Only fools will venture there.

The IRB must make the call as soon as possible. It might sound cruel and heartless if they do, but not nearly as devastating as it would be if there is another quake while teams are playing.

There is of course other consideration as well. As I have mentioned, spectators need to plan trips, book hotels, motor homes and flights. All of those can lead to a massive logjam if something happens again and the IRB decides in say, two or three months that the city will not be hosting matches any more.

It is a well known fact that this tournament will lose millions of dollars and the IRB has already admitted as much when they went for cash rich England and Japan for the next two tournaments.

It is a terrible situation and one can certainly not blame the people of New Zealand for this. They have been preparing for years and years to host this tournament, but sanity must prevail. There are more than enough other venues where those matches can be played outside of Christchurch.
There will be massive logistic challenges if the games have to be moved, but not nearly as many if it is not and the earth moves again.

This tournament is close to becoming a massive obstacle to the IRB and the people of New Zealand. Clear heads and a lot of faith are needed and some painful realities will have to be faced.

Good luck to all.

Read JJ every Sunday in Rapport.

Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.


  • di - 2011-02-24 09:20

    Mother Earth? Didn't think you subscribed to flaky new-age thinking, Mr H.

      Dundermoose - 2011-02-24 11:13

      It's an age-old saying. Nothing "new" about it.

  • AJ - 2011-02-24 10:04

    The tournament should proceed as planned. Japan is also quake territory.

  • tdk25 - 2011-02-24 10:15

    Move it to South Africa....

      kosie - 2011-02-24 13:48

      i agree, we're already set up from the fifa world cup.

      maycenz - 2011-02-25 12:24


  • Fat Rucker - 2011-02-24 11:37

    By your logic, JJ, the whole world cup should be called off because a giant meterorite MIGHT crash into New Zealand. I'm sure seismologists have some sort of forecasting ability, but who's to say that Christchurch should suffer because there's a chance (odds largely unpredictable) of another quake? NOTHING is risk-free.

      BardofAvon - 2011-02-24 19:55

      Fat Rucker, come on. Seismologists can't predict any more than meteoroligsts can predict floods and hurricanes and floods, and economist can predict financial meltdowns. Common sense is needed. But the trouble with common sense, as you have shown, is that it is not very common.

  • Gavin Taylor - 2011-02-24 11:46

    This is the kind of article that causes hysteria. "I am no expert on earthquakes and trembles". Yes, that was about the most correct statement you have probably ever written. New Zealand is right slap bang on a fault line, so every couple of years they have a few shakes. None quite as bad as this, granted, but it happens. To say that the Rugby World Cup is in severe danger, and that anyone travelling to "the south stand" is ludicrous. That would be similar to saying that people should not come to Pretoria because somebody was shot in Johannesburg. Basically, with this article, you are leading people to believe that there will indeed be a quake during the world cup. But through clever use of article construct, have let everyone decide that notion for themselves. I have friends in Christchurch. It was a horrible day. But give them a chance to pick themselves up before we even start to debate whether the IRB should be making decisions. Give them a chance to grieve for the lost and come to terms with what they have just been through before we start casting the die on their RWC.

  • Toby - 2011-02-24 11:52

    The Olympics was held in LA & 7's were played in Las Vegas. San Francisco and the whole of California, moves weekly(not weakly) and still life goes on. The Kiwi's are our mates and we are obliged to be friends in need. Australia Burns and floods.., and we have triple M (Moto Mouth Malema) and Smittie is NOT a PROP.but a very capable captain, and so is Victor. Let us go there and play the game earthquake earthshake and refs ! !

  • zollantyu - 2011-02-24 12:10

    You are right, clear the heads and face the realities, NZ is not Africa, the reality is , that the kiwis will sort it out without a glitch.

      Loder - 2011-02-24 13:07

      True story!

  • Weepee - 2011-02-24 13:23

    Just can't write an article without blowing the Bulls trumpet can you JJ !!! Writing about the quake and the impact it may have on the RWC and you still manage to put in a punt for the Bulls & Victor.

      BardofAvon - 2011-02-24 19:57

      And you, oh weepy one, are jealous.

  • watalife - 2011-02-24 18:41

    JJ+BULLS= doos

  • Christian - 2011-02-24 18:49

    JJ, I am shocked that you advocate the taking away of World Cup matches from Christchurch based on when another tremor or earthquake might strike. I live in Chile - one of the most earthquake prone countries in the world. Seismologists predicted for 10 years before the 2010 earthquake imminent earthquakes that never happened. In the 10 years that nothing happened people went on with their lives. We picked up the pieces after the last quake and life has returned to normality. The IRB cannot take away the World Cup from Christchurch based on what may happen. If the stadium can be repaired the city must be allowed to host its matches. The people of Christchurch should be allowed to pick up the pieces and and not let scaremongerers take away the chance of a lifetime!

      zollantyu - 2011-02-24 20:01

      You are so right, imagine if FIFA would have taken away the world cup from South Africa because supporters were at high risk of getting murdered, raped etc. That happens daily, while earthquakes don't! The poor kiwis suffered a major blow and instead of kicking them from behind, lend them a helping hand. The All Blacks have contributed heaps to the world of Rugby, The RWC wouldn't be worthy without a fully spirited and prepared AB team. I am not saying they should win, but certainly wish them all the strength.

  • Blip - 2011-02-25 03:34

    How ridiculous is this? Whenever there is a big earthquake, the chances are much stronger that there will NOT be another one. Yes, of course there will always be a possibility, and yes there are no guarantees, but a quake reduces the likelihood of another one. It's possible, but less probable. And the whole of NZ, just like Japan, lies on a tectonic boundary -- earthquakes and volcanoes are a fact of life there. If you're really seriously fretting about dying in a quake or eruption, you'd NEVER go anywhere near any country fully criss-crossed with fault-lines. You'd stay away from anywhere in NZ and anywhere in Japan. And stay well away from California and Indonesia too. Of course, everyone would think you're a total wussy, but hey -- if the cap fits, wear it.

  • BardofAvon - 2011-02-25 07:40

    JJ you missed the big point, and it is a rugby one. This tragedy will give the All Blacks a sense of purpose to win the World Cup like they have never had before.

  • dejagermeister777 - 2011-02-27 00:24

    I'm sorry Mr. Harmse but perhaps you should restrict yourself to talking about rugby, if that is what you do. Your logic in this article is embarrasing. It insults the intelligence of your readers and undermines any journalistic integrity that News24 might have. I sincerely hope that no one from the international community stumbles upon this. Please read what you actually wrote, because I can only hope for the sake of your intelligence that you neglected to do so: "I am no expert on earthquakes and trembles, but you need not to be to see that there is currently something not right with Mother Earth’s stomach in the Christchurch area. Although no one can predict there will not be another quake, I would say, there is a fair chance there will. And as no one can guarantee no loss of life if it happens again, it will be very naive from the IRB and the organising committee to presume that nothing will or could happen..."

      Andy49 - 2011-02-27 21:40

      what more do you expect from a Bulls pseudo-journo?

  • Lionel - 2011-02-28 13:33

    I was rather appalled at the disgusting behaviour of a large segment of the spectators at the Cheetahs and Bulls game in Bloemfontein who jeered and whistled during observing one minutes silence for those who had perished in the earthquake in Christchurch and those idiots who acted like morons when they where shown on the big screen during the minutes silence. At one stage Supersport actually turned the broadcast sound down from the stadium. At all other rugby games both locally and international you could hear a pin drop during the minutes silence. The Cheetahs and Bulls rugby unions should be made to apologise to the New Zealand rugby union and citizens of New Zealand.

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