A disappointing result for the men's sevens team in Rio will have a minimal impact on the strength of the All Blacks brand, according to experts.

A 12-7 quarter-final loss to Fiji ended New Zealand's medal hopes and capped a less than stellar string of performances with the team losing three of four games and just scraping into the knockout stages courtesy of a sole win over Kenya.

The Games began in horror fashion for New Zealand when they lost to Japan for the first time ever, prompting many Kiwi fans to call for the 'All Blacks' name to be dropped from the sevens team and reserved for the 15-a-side squad only.

But experts reckon the damage to the All Blacks brand caused by the early exit from the Olympic tournament will be slight.


Geoff Dickson, associate professor in sport management at Auckland University of Technology, said most fans understand the "fickle" nature of sevens means winning is often a matter of luck.

"You only have to make one mistake and you're going to concede points, and you don't have a lot of time to come back given its only 14 minutes of play.

"Then we have this new thing called the Olympics and how rugby fits into that. There's no tradition of New Zealand winning at the Olympics, it's new and this will give people a chance to dismiss it because it's not part of their mental picture of what the All Blacks are."

The men's sevens team were renamed the All Blacks Sevens in June 2012, as part of an extension of the All Blacks name that included the New Zealand Maori team.

Dickson said there is a risk that a poorly performing sevens team could jeopardise the All Blacks brand, but any impact would be "indirect and probably not very large".

"Sevens rugby in the Olympics is a good thing for New Zealand Rugby and rugby union in New Zealand. Whether you call them the All Blacks Sevens or not, I don't think that has a great deal of upside nor do i think there's a great deal of negative with it.

"The sevens side is far from an embarrassment. They played hard and they've just been beaten by a better team on the day.

"Sevens rugby is the equivalent of Twenty20 cricket, it only takes a couple of players to have a day out and it can absolutely change the game in an instant."

From a commercial perspective, Dickson argued key sponsors such as American insurance company AIG wouldn't be concerned with the New Zealand side's final placing.

"I don't think the commercial value of New Zealand Rugby's relationship with major sponsors has been compromised by the performance of the sevens team, I think that the important thing is they're at the Olympics."

Massey University professor Harald van Heerde said there would be "limited damage" to the All Blacks image, but New Zealand Rugby has run the risk of "spreading the super powerful brand too thin".

"They weren't carrying All Blacks logo on their jerseys, so in that sense I'm not so sure that overseas they will see this as a version of the All Blacks. The link between the All Blacks and All Blacks Sevens is a bit weaker overseas than it is here, and of course it is only a few years old.

"There will be a bit of backlash now because it is such a holy name to carry, if you don't win gold it's disappointing. Using the All Blacks name sets the expectations extremely high.

"They were potentially hopeful that more All Blacks would play in the team which didn't eventually happen."

Steve Hansen, coach of the 15-a-side team, said he had no qualms with the sevens squad being referred to as the All Blacks.

"They are a new New Zealand side and they play in an all black uniform so it's just one of those things. People see it as the All Black sevens. I don't have a problem with it, no."