Rio Olympics 2016: Stop calling sevens team the All Blacks - fans

The sevens team were shocked by Japan before bouncing back and beating Kenya. Photo /Getty
The sevens team were shocked by Japan before bouncing back and beating Kenya. Photo /Getty

Unhappy rugby fans are calling on New Zealand Rugby to drop the All Blacks tag given to our national sevens team.

A poll on the New Zealand Herald website is overwhelmingly in favour of the Sevens team not being given the title given worldwide media coverage of the side's shock loss to Japan in their opening pool match at the Rio Olympics this morning.

And listeners on Radio Sport have backed up the viewpoint, saying calling the Sevens as the "All Blacks" is damaging the team's international brand and reputation.

With mainstream media around the world not really understanding the difference between the 15-man game and the seven-man version, global headlines have centered on Japan "beating the All Blacks" in Rio.

The Japan Times took that line as did the influential Reuters news network whose report was used around the world and also featured "All Blacks" in its headline and match coverage.

New Zealand Rugby officially added the All Blacks moniker to the Sevens and New Zealand Maori teams several years ago.

The move upset many traditionalists who say the All Blacks title should only be bestowed on our 15-man side and that national Sevens and Maori players don't regard themselves as All Blacks unless they have represented New Zealand in that format.

Critics claim the changes were motivated to please sponsors and allow them to leverage in important areas to them such as North America, Asia and Europe.

A poll on the Herald site after the shock 14-12 defeat to Japan showed 68 per cent of respondents wanted the All Blacks name removed from the Sevens team.

Callers into Martin Devlin's show on Radio Sport also condemned the Sevens side being referred to as All Blacks.

"It's been a hot topic all morning," said Devlin. "And it's fair to say that almost all opinion is running against NZ Rugby. People are saying the All Blacks brand is being hurt."

One texter wrote: "There is only one team that is called the All Blacks as far as I'm concerned.

Others suggested New Zealand Rugby had not given enough support to the Sevens team and that more top 15-man players should have been made available.

Just as happened when the USA team defeated New Zealand in a World Sevens Series tournament in December last year, several American news outlets also referred to the "All Blacks" being beaten in their reports today.

- NZ Herald

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