Wellington Sevens needs to learn from Nines

MATT STEWART
Last updated 05:00 17/02/2014
Fans arrive at Auckland Nines
PETER MEECHAM/Fairfax NZ Zoom
ALL DOLLED UP: Fans during day two of the Auckland Nines.

Does NZ need an alcohol overhaul?

Share your stories, photos and videos.
Cowboys win
PETER MEECHAM/Fairfax NZ Zoom
The Cowboys celebrate their win over the Broncos in the grand final of the inaugural Auckland Nines.

Relevant offers

Rugby

Grey areas a good thing for the Waratahs Crusaders prepare for big final defensive effort Kurtley Beale fails to complete Waratahs final training Fullback dilemma for Steve Hansen's All Blacks Black Ferns aura of invincibility just 'not there' Legend Colin Meads gets IRB Hall of Fame nod Rugby treasure and hearty head off to Australia Deafness no barrier to Mitchell's rugby dreams Manawatu pip Wellington in preseason NPC clash Is pressure of final getting to Michael Cheika?

Hard as it may be to admit, Auckland could hold a few lessons for the annual Wellington Sevens event.

Marty Donoghue, the general manager of the sevens, spent the weekend at the inaugural Auckland Nines rugby league tournament, and said afterwards the success up north could help the sevens reinvent itself.

The nines attracted nearly 90,000 fans over two days at Eden Park, while the sevens failed to sell out this year.

Auckland - long rumoured to have an eye on poaching the sevens from the capital - has secured the league event for five years, which could be positive for Wellington retaining its showcase event.

While smuggled alcohol and some minor disorder were reported in Auckland, in the city's biggest weekend since the Rugby World Cup, police and emergency services largely gave it the thumbs-up. In contrast, police lashed out at the drunken behaviour at the sevens tournament just over a week ago.

Donoghue attended the first day of the nines on Saturday and said organisers had done a good job in producing an "outstanding" event.

"Those guys really understand who their customers are and it's a really broad base, but the one thing people had in common was a passion for rugby league."

The success of the sevens hinged more on reinventing the tournament and using the opportunity of the code becoming an Olympic sport to attract bigger stars and more passion from fans.

He said the Wellington Sevens needed to make more of the dominance of the All Black sevens team - who won this year's competition - as a marketing tool.

"We have a brand and that's one of our strengths and that's something we have to take better advantage of."

Ultimately the sevens faced competition from all events competing for people's entertainment dollars.

"I don't think it's just the nines. The competition is for people's money . . . it's a balancing act, brands have to constantly refresh themselves."

Donoghue said Wellington rugby had put in a tender with the International Rugby Board to host the sevens in Wellington in 2015 and 2016 but would not be drawn on whether it would be successful.

"It would be arrogant to think that we would naturally get it - we have to fight hard and put forward a really good product," he said.

The deadline for formal tender submissions for hosting a sevens World Series tournament is set for June. Series hosts will be selected in October.

Westpac Stadium boss Shane Harmon said alcohol issues at the sevens needed to be managed and that the tournament needed to evolve but that Wellington was the spiritual home of sevens and would remain so.

Ad Feedback

Competition from the Auckland Nines was positive. "I'm a big believer in competition - the things they've done we'll be able to learn from."

- The Dominion Post

Comments

Special offers
Opinion poll

What effect will a potential ban on booze at Rugby Sevens 2015 have on you?

I'd no longer go ... what's the point?

I'd buy a ticket, with rugby the priority again.

Ban or no ban, I'm still going.

I'd rather watch 'Wheel of Fortune' on a 24/7 loop than 7s.

Vote Result

Related story: Booze ban hovers over sevens

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content