Wynne Gray 's Opinion

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Wynne Gray: Sevens could hurt ABs brand and Super Rugby

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Sevens coach Gordon Tietjens. Photo / APN
Sevens coach Gordon Tietjens. Photo / APN

Sevens rugby got an upgrade to the All Black family.

The NZRU want to exploit that brand on the global stage and see the 2016 Rio Olympics as a great fit for that strategy. Massive television audiences will provide marketing and promotions avenues to piggyback those from next year's World Cup.

It's a great chance to take rugby to the world and into a continent which is soaked in football and been saturated by the recent World Cup.

Sevens is a fine sport with marvellous athletes as we've seen at the Commonwealth Games.

But I don't want it to inflict more discomfort on the Super Rugby series in 2016.

That tournament is facing credibility problems for the next two years. We know players will be rested and rotated out of games next season as the Super Rugby coaches and All Black panel haggle about their rosters as the World Cup approaches.

In 2016, a number of those players are tipped to concentrate on sevens rather than Super Rugby or test commitments.

All this comes in the wake of the sevens' loss to South Africa in the final of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games. It happens. It was a decent old game full of passion, skill and energy and the South Africans were better.

Now we are told coach Gordon Tietjens has written to a number of players he sees as potential sevens stars, asking them to swap to the short-form game in 2016 so New Zealand has a better shot at Olympic gold. We've also had NZRU chief executive Steve Tew endorsing that appeal although he's not sure how it will pan out.

The alleged failure in Glasgow is being wheeled out as a reason to further damage Super Rugby in 2016. That tournament is being expanded beyond its resources that year and removing players for sevens work will puncture it even more.

Glasgow was not a disaster. It was sport. New Zealand came second, they were runners-up, they were beaten by a better team.

That might happen in Rio as well and how will that look if New Zealand has a side stacked with superstar talent?

That will be another disaster-on the NZRU rating scale-while who knows what damage will have been done to the bastardised Super Rugby series. And what would be the spinoff with the All Blacks if they lose players to the sevens?

Tew is a highly capable business leader of a sporting brand who is juggling the commercial, emotional and sporting needs of his organ-isation. He has to ride with his sporting and marketing logic.

Some players have NZRU deals which allow them to be released for sevens in 2016.

It would be fascinating to know whether any release also means a drop in wages towards the level of the current sevens men and how those regular players would feel if they had done all the hard work towards Rio before being replaced by gold diggers.

- NZ Herald

Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

NZ Herald senior rugby writer Wynne Gray has been covering the All Blacks for almost 25 years and has attended more than 230 All Blacks tests live for the Herald.

Read more by Wynne Gray

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