Seven Whimpers

January 15, 2023

News that the Rugby Sevens will no longer include New Zealand because it is not an “iconic” festival attraction, seals our contention in 2017 that NZ Rugby’s collaboration with a moral panic over the Wellington Sevens was the wrong strategic response.

The affair was a PR case study – played out over 12 years – of the worst that can happen when organisations bend to political or social criticism.

The outcome announced this month was started over a decade ago by decisions within NZ Rugby to adopt a strategy of agreeing and collaborating with critics of the crowd behaviour and alcohol consumption connected to the Wellington Sevens.

This case study is important because similar situations are faced regularly by other organisations. Very rarely are the long-term consequences of giving in to criticism so well tracked and therefore so starkly apparent.