Apparently it's called the Wellington Sevens because that's how many tickets were sold.

Financially beleaguered for the past few seasons, news broke yesterday that hosting the lauded tournament in the capital is now no longer viable.

The smallest crowd in the event's 18-year-history graced Westpac Stadium at the weekend.

I was lucky enough to get to the very first incarnation of the event almost two decades ago. Back then there was no dress up. As a nation we weren't quite familiar with the format of a free-ranging, 48- hour sporting party.


But the foreign soon turned familiar. After all, it sphered the Kiwi touchstones of booze, mince-and-cheese-pies, rugby and music in one compact Cake Tin.

In its heyday, when it drew a huge 34,000-capacity, it was as close as this country got to Mardi Gras.

Rugby was never the top billing; sport simply provided the window and the venue.

Police too were always in good spirits. Exiting one tournament years ago I happened upon officers making an arrest, pinning a young bloke to the concrete floor while his mates stood about laughing at the fracas.

Turns out it was all staged - the officers had agreed to pretend to arrest him so his friends could take some good photos home.

If another New Zealand venue will reinvigorate the tournament, then so be it. I'd suggest Dunedin. While geographically it's not central, the Otago students would easily bolster the ranks - and if any city does Mardi Gras, it's Dunedin under an all-weather roof.

Either way, we need to keep the party alive. While it'd be lamentable for Wellington to lose it to another city, it'd be unforgivable to lose it to another country.