After a period of over a decade of being New Zealand’s fastest selling sporting event, it has been an all-in pile on from multiple directions which has reached a climax this weekend.
It’s just a party
No kidding. That is how it has always been.
Leading the charge was the NZ Herald with a simply extraordinary questioning of punters as they left the Stadium at the end of Day One. Patrons were asked what the NZ v PNG score was and,non surprisingly, not many got it right. Remember there were 24 games on Friday
What is the idea here? Exit examinations for patrons as a way of deciding sporting worthiness. That was an attack angle that seemed a little obsessed.
Wellington is too good for the Sevens.
This has recently become quite the cause celebre of Wellington hipsters. Leading the charge has been self-consciously craft beer purist bar Hashigo Zake who took pretentious passive aggressive to new levels last week. Other than some self-righteous Gold Stars, it is difficult to see what they were trying to achieve by this; it wasn’t the Sevens that looked bad out of the Press Release.
Clearly, however, there is a real issue with alcohol abuse associated with the event, as there is in a wider context. After the mass evictions of last year, the organisers have taken major steps to tidy it up. Getting into the ground is a bit like driving home on the last Friday evening before Christmas Day; if you’ve got alcohol on your breath you don’t get in.
During the event there are hourly debrief sessions where numbers of evictions, arrests, and those still wandering along the waterfront are analysed.
This does create a slight atmosphere of naughty school kids at a 3rd form disco trying to sneak in a quiet snog, but it attempting to address some of the issues of the past.
There may be offensive incidents in town later on tonight, but to blame that entirely on thhe Sevens is a bit like saying that wind is caused by trees waving their branches.
The NRL 9s are better
There is no doubt that the advent of the NRL 9s has had an impact on crowds at the Sevens. Historically a large proportion of the crowd has come from out of town, as a destination weekend. They now have an option, and the Nines are fresh.
One thing the nines did well in its first year is the pricing before losing it this year, and the Sevens needs to learn from that. It also needs to look at single day tickets.
The pitting of the two against each other is not really in anyone’s interest. Perhaps the sevens needs to look at whether a relocation to the end of February may be an option.
It will change for a year in 2016, with the Rio Olympics around the corner and higher profile 15s players said to be available. The challenge will be to use this spike, and a corresponding increase in genuine rugby fans, to remodel the event