Wellington Sevens: Change inevitable

  • 24/03/2017
Crowd at the Wellington Sevens (file)
Crowd at the Wellington Sevens (file)

New Zealand Rugby insists no decisions have yet been made on the future of the Wellington Sevens tournament but admit big changes, one way or another, must be made.

This year's January event hosted the smallest crowd in the tournament's 18-year history, with only 10,000 people showing up on each of the two days.

That was well down on the average 14,000 last year, and considerably lower than the sell-out crowds of yesteryear.

The Kiwi union was expected to announce the future of the Sevens this month, and whether the world series event will remain in the Kiwi capital.

That deadline appears to have been pushed back but NZR boss Steve Tew told reporters on Thursday changes to the Sevens were inevitable.

The tournament made a sizeable loss in 2017 and, without the party atmosphere of its heyday, lost fan interest.

Wellington has two years remaining on its Sevens hosting contract, but a number of other Kiwi cities are reportedly keen to take up the reins.

Options are limited by the logistics of getting 16 teams in and out smoothly, along with meeting World Rugby's venue requirements.

"Where it sits right now is not where it wants to be, and despite endeavours to reshape, reposition and re-price the tournament, it hasn't worked," Mr Tew said.

"That has caused a sobering re-think of where we sit."

Mr Tew also said any prospect of adding a women's Sevens tournament to the schedule would go on the backburner until the Wellington Sevens' future is settled.