'Abstain for the All Blacks' campaign gets a red card

New Zealand rugby fans have overwhelmingly rejected a campaign urging them to give up sex as a way of supporting the All Blacks during this year’s Rugby World Cup.

Telecom, a team sponsor, planned to launch an advertising campaign calling on fans to “Abstain for the All Blacks” next week to generate publicity ahead of the September-October tournament, the New Zealand Herald reported.

It said fans would be given black rubber rings to wear to show they were supporting the abstinence campaign, which will be fronted by former All Blacks captain Sean Fitzpatrick.

While the campaign was approved by the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU), the idea of putting sex in the sin bin has found little support from the country’s sporting public.

“Dumb, dumb, dumb, that’s just dumb,” one All Black supporter, who identified himself as Grant, said in Wellington.

Are you kidding?
A New Zealand Herald online poll asking fans if they would forego sex during the seven-week tournament attracted almost 10 000 votes, with 92% responding: “No, are you kidding?”

One supporter, who did not want to be named, said he did not relish the prospect of being ridiculed by boozed-up England fans if he turned up to a match sporting a celibacy ring.

NZRU spokesperson Juli Clausen confirmed the campaign would go ahead, but stressed it was being organised by Telecom, not the sporting body.

“It’s their campaign, their creative [idea], obviously we’ve been across it, but it’s very much their campaign and owned by them,” she said.

Clausen was unable to immediately confirm reports that All Blacks coach Graham Henry was asked to front the no-sex campaign but declined.

‘Kiwi humour’
Telecom marketing director Kieren Cooney said it was a fun way to galvanise support for the All Blacks, who will be desperate to succeed on home soil at this year’s tournament after decades of World Cup underperformance.

“We’ve tried to take a way that is fun and is absolutely tongue-in-cheek, and is based on what we think is Kiwi humour,” he told the newspaper.

The New Zealand YWCA said Telecom was sending the wrong message by promoting abstinence and should instead push a safe sex message.

“We need to be realistic that there will be a lot of sex during the Rugby World Cup ... instead of black rubber finger rings that promote abstinence, produce some black male and female condoms for fans,” YWCA spokesperson Sarah Davies said. “They will get much more use.”—AFP

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