All Blacks name extended to Sevens and Maori   1 Jun 2012

The New Zealand Men's Sevens team and New Zealand Maori are to be officially referred to as the All Blacks Sevens and Maori All Blacks respectively, the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) advised today.

The changes take effect for the next IRB Sevens World Series beginning later this year for the men's Sevens team and for New Zealand Maori on their Northern Hemisphere tour later this year.

"This change recognises a commonly held perception the world over, whether it be fans, sports media and at times even other rugby unions and tournament organisers," said NZRU Chief Executive Steve Tew (see examples below).

"Both teams already wear a black jersey and the identical silver fern; this name change simply catches up with how many people already see these teams as being linked to the All Blacks."

The NZRU already has another national team similarly named in the Junior All Blacks (see new logos below).

"Significantly, this name change will expand the commercial and partnership opportunities available to us so providing much needed funds for all layers of the game in New Zealand.

"We need $100 million a year to sustain our national game, to produce and retain the best players in the world and to keep making the community game attractive to young players, but opportunities are more limited in New Zealand and the economic climate also makes it very challenging.

"This change allows us to create more reasons for international companies to associate with the All Blacks and New Zealand rugby by convincing them that the brand has real global reach.

"The All Blacks Sevens and Maori All Blacks can do that by flying the All Blacks flag virtually around the world throughout the year. They are both wonderful ambassadors for our game.

"From Las Vegas to Dubai, the Sevens team plays in more places, more often than the All Blacks. The next season extends from October to May and will be longer in coming years as more tournaments are added. As well, the Olympics provides a fantastic new opportunity on the biggest sporting stage in the world.

"Imagine the All Blacks silver fern proudly on the chests of our Sevens team at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016. There is no greater place to showcase to the world the All Blacks style of rugby.

"Likewise with New Zealand Maori. We see them as also carrying the All Blacks message around the world. We are now working on securing sponsorship and support to put in place a regular overseas touring programme."

Steve Tew said the change was carefully considered and it did not alter what it meant to be an All Black.

"The definition of an All Black will not change. To be capped as an All Black you must take the field in a fifteen aside Test match. Becoming an All Black will remain the pinnacle of rugby achievement and the dream of youngsters across the country who lace up their boots each weekend.

"But by taking these steps, we can better sustain the game we love, continue to produce winning All Blacks and ensure New Zealand rugby continues to be the powerhouse of world rugby."

(NZRU)

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