Nines into sev­ens, know how helps

Matamata Chronicle - - News -

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

Sev­ens gen­eral man­ager Marty Donoghue 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’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 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 the tour­na­ment needed to evolve, but Welling­ton was the spir­i­tual home of sev­ens and would re­main so.

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,’’ Har­mon said.

WELL DONE: War­riors play­ers salute the crowd af­ter los­ing the semi­fi­nal to the Cow­boys at the NRL Nines.

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