A petition advocating a later start to the standard work day during the Rugby World Cup has kicked off - will you Push Back For Black?

The Push Back For Black petition calls for employers to change their standard working hours to 10am-6pm from 9am-5pm to allow employees to catch early morning Cup matches before heading to work.

NZME radio brands Hauraki, Radio Sport and ZM together with the Herald were among the first to support the petition.

Radio Hauraki host Leigh Hart was ready to sign at any time. "Considering I don't start my Bhuja radio show until 6pm, my working day doesn't really start until 5.55pm and by that time all the interesting people in the office I like to catch up with for an after-work drink have already left. It would be nice if people could start at 10, and then stick around at the other end of the day. Push Back For Black and for me! Bring it on."

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Herald managing editor Shayne Currie urged other employers to follow suit. "To allow New Zealanders the opportunity to stay up during the night to watch the All Blacks play - or enjoy a full game at home from 7am or 8am - seems the patriotic thing to do."

Auckland's Heart of the City CEO Viv Beck says it's a good idea that could create energy and excitement around the event given that it's not here.

However, she says it would be dependent on businesses.

"The reality for some businesses is that they might not be able to do it. "

The campaign comes as an Oxford University researcher claimed that forcing staff to start work before 10am was tantamount to torture and was making employees ill, exhausted and stressed.

Dr Paul Kelley said there was a need for a huge societal change to move work and school starting times to fit with the natural body clock of humans. Before the age of 55, the circadian rhythms of adults were completely out of sync with normal nine-to-five working hours, posing a "serious threat" to performance, mood and mental health.

Fans have gathered at a West Auckland stadium to watch the All Blacks at their final public event before they head to England for the Rugby World Cup. A spatter of rain as the team bus pulled up to Trusts Arena in Henderson had fans reaching for their umbrellas, but as the ABs came onto the field the rain cleared. Fans in jerseys, carrying posters and shirts to be signed arrived at the arena as early as 9am, eager for the chance to see their heroes train and have some interaction following the training session.

"Staff are usually sleep deprived. We've got a sleep-deprived society," Dr Kelly said.

"It is hugely damaging on the body's systems because you are affecting physical, emotional and performance systems in the body.Your liver and your heart have different patterns and you're asking them to shift two or three hours. This is an international issue. Everybody is suffering and they don't have to."

Sleep deprivation has been shown to have significant effects on health. A week with less than six hours' sleep a night led to 711 changes in how genes function, one study discovered.

NZME with its brands including Newstalk ZB, The Hits, Coast, Flava, GrabOne along with regional papers Hawke's Bay Today, Wairarapa Times-Age, Bay of Plenty Times, Rotorua Daily Post, Wanganui Chronicle and the Northern Advocate have also shown their support by signing the petition.

To sign the petition to support changing the start of the working day to 10am for the duration of the Cup: www.pushbackforblack.co.nz

PwC people and culture lead partner David Lamb says the company wasn't planning on setting any hard and fast rule around work start times during the Rugby World Cup season.

"At the end of the day it comes down to trust."

He says if people want to stay at home to watch the game and come in a bit later they can - as long as they still fulfil their work obligations.

While Auckland Council won't be pushing back its working hours it is open to staff members discussing their desire to watch the game with their managers.

People and Capability director Christine Etherington acknowledges many of its staff may be avid rugby fans and may want to watch the games at home.

However, she says the council did have a large number of service staff that will need to be available "around the clock" such as Animal Management Control and Noise Control.

"They can discuss roster changes potentially with their managers," she says. "We recommend they discuss this with their direct manager to see if this is possible."

She adds some areas of council would be holding internal events within their departments for the Rugby World Cup.