Why The Rugby Sevens Must Go

73099373MM017_SevensRecently the “colourful” Rugby Sevens tournament brought many visitors to our fair city and teams from all over the world to compete. It would all be very uplifting, except that the event has become less about sport and more about partying and getting trashed. Is that the kind of reputation we are trying to build for Wellington?

The party culture around this event reflects the worst elements of our selfish, reckless, binge drinking Kiwi culture, so it seems entirely out of tune with a city in which we are attempting to cultivate higher values such as innovation, creativity and the advancement of knowledge. Supporters of the “Sevens” frequently quote the estimated $16 million in economic returns to the city. Rarely mentioned is the cost of extra policing and the additional burden on emergency medical facilities from an endless tide of drunks and  costumed misfits. In the same way that the Rugby World Cup failed to deliver, the chief beneficiaries of this economic “windfall” only seem to be pub owners and concessionaires selling booze at the stadium venue.

For a growing number of us who are not sports loving extroverts, the Sevens has become an embarrassment and something best avoided. Certainly one does not venture into the central city in the evening unaccompanied, when the event is underway. Even during the daytime, wearing a costume seems to be a licence for intoxicated young men and women to behave in an obnoxious manner that would be unacceptable on any other weekend.

No doubt I will be accused of being petty minded and intolerant. After all, I should be gracious on the occasions I have been verbally abused, had drunks pissing in my driveway and when awoken at 3am by the tuneful refrain of those meandering home. But not standing up against anti-social behaviour is at the foundation of why social problems such as family violence, alcoholism and drink driving persist. I make no apologies for expressing an unpopular viewpoint on this.


2 thoughts on “Why The Rugby Sevens Must Go

  1. hi Paul,

    I agree entirely – whilst I’m personally uninterested in sporting events, I support having them so that those who do enjoy such activities can take part.

    However the Rugby Sevens has gone way past simply being another sporting event, to instead being treated as a giant party and excuse to abuse alcohol.

    The problem is that I’m unsure of the solution, it’s difficult to come up with a fix that avoids imposing on too many liberties – for every drunken idiot, there will also be many who drink and act sensibly during the Rugby Sevens and we should try not to impose on their freedoms either.

    Part of the issue is NZ’s general alcohol abuse problem – figuring out some ways to fix that could go a long way towards fixing many of the issues with the Rugby Sevens as well as improving NZ cities on any regular Friday and Saturday night.


  2. Unfortunately I fear any change in the culture will be generations away. There will always be a sector of the population that enjoy a drink and a game of footy – it’s deeply ingrained and there is nothing wrong with that, provided it does not impose on the freedoms of others. Despite what the various rugby marketing organisations tell us, this group has become a minority of the population as we have thankfully become more diverse as a society over time.

    If the Sevens are to stay in the city, I would like to see the Wellington City Council and the Police take a more proactive role in monitoring behaviour outside of the stadium environs. It is unacceptable for other citizens to feel unsafe or harassed for the period when the event is running. The main focus seems to be on the stadium whereas attendees are making their presence felt increasingly in the city

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