The organization leading up to the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand has been really impressive.
The first time the tournament made news in non-rugby nations, however, had nothing to do with the tournament organizers and, folks feel, has given the nation an All Black eye.
Telecom decided to launch a nationwide campaign encouraging rugby supporters to abstain from sex for the six weeks of the tournament. As a sign of solidarity. The campaign, which was to include black pledge rings, was roundly poo-poohed and pulled before it could debut.
Of course the Australians, who are always there for their Kiwi brethren, pounced. "Well that will make the sheep happy," came the cry from across the Tasman.
My facebook friends forwarded me resulting news stories, including one from The Washington Post. Not one of them thought it a good idea. And that's putting it mildly. The story made the newspapers all over the world.
"I think I should abstain from talking about that," said the All Blacks coach Graham Henry.
"We misjudged public feeling, which in reaction to yesterday's partial revelations in the news media was overwhelmingly negative," said a Telecom executive. "No excuses. We caused offence to some people, and for that we apologise."
Huge embarrassment ensued.
During the campaign's planning stage, one idea considered was placing posters at men's urinals urging men to "Think of your Mum in a bikini ... Abstain for the All Blacks."
Advertising executives also considered placing cold showers outside popular bars to show that publicans were committed to hosing down anyone tempted to break their vow of chastity, according to a newspaper.
Wow. Bad idea upon bad idea. And the Aussies are still laughing.