It was over 12 months ago that Christchurch was rocked by a series of powerful earthquakes that flattened buildings, destroyed infrastructure and claimed many, many lives.
It was heartbreaking to watch. Our Kiwi brothers and sisters got up that morning, and it was like any other day. They went to work not realizing that some of them would never return home. To watch from afar and see a city under siege from earthquakes, that continue to this day, was frightening.
The damage was so wide spread that many people decided to leave. The New Zealand Government has agree’d to pay compensation to people living in the worst hit areas if they decide to leave, an acknowledgement that many people simply can not bring themselves to return and live in a city that receives aftershocks on a daily basis.
It was with that backdrop that the head of the NZRL, Jim Doyle has has thrown out the idea that Christchurch may make a bid to enter the NRL in 2015.
Current 2015 NRL expansion bids have been in the works for years now. The WARL has been working for more than a decade on their bid for an NRL club while newer bids, such as the Ipswich bid, have been in the words for at least three years.
New Zealand NEEDS a second NRL club, but to think that anyone could cobble together a bid for an expansion club at this late stage is fanciful.
Craig Kerr, the head of the Canterbury Rugby League, has even thrown cold water on such a move saying “Whether it’s viable or not is a moot point. But there is no doubt it would be good for rugby league in Christchurch,”.
AMI Stadium in Christchurch was so severely damaged during the earthquakes that it had to be condemned. Canterbury Rugby League stadium was also damaged beyond repair, and was also condemned. However the latter was chosen as the site for what will be Christchurch’s only large outdoor sporting venue, with an earthquake proof 18,000 seat stadium being constructed right now.
The government has said that this will remain the only large outdoor sporting facility the area for the foreseeable future. The fact is, Christchurch and its surrounding areas suffered billions of dollars worth of damage, and the need to try and rebuild an entire city will over ride any push to build a bigger stadium in the area any time soon.
In much the same way that I am not comfortable in seeing a third world country like Papua New Guinea bid for a million dollar NRL team while the locals would struggle to find basics like housing, jobs, clean water and the like, I have issues with anyone in the NZRL pushing for Christchurch to get an NRL team.
The city needs a million other things before anyone in the area should be lobbying anyone to invest in an NRL club.
By all means, I hope the NRL schedulers games in the area. A Test match between Australia and New Zealand was quickly moved from the area just after the earthquakes and while it was a completely understandable move, I feel like Rugby League needs to go back there, return and give the area some games, give people in Christchurch 80 minutes where they can just enjoy themselves.
However, I don’t like the idea that anyone within the New Zealand Rugby League would step foot in Christchurch and be thinking about spending any money on football. There are so many other things in that area that need attention right now.
A well known Rugby League writer, League Freak has established a reputation among supporters of the game for his fearless commentary and unmatched insight. With a reach that spans both sides of the globe, League Freak has produced an independent network that allows him to distribute content to his many thousands of followers. He is the owner and main author of LeagueFreak.com
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