Rugby: Fighting words - or marketing?

The offending billboard outside Forsyth Barr Stadium which has raised the hackles of Otago rugby...
The offending billboard outside Forsyth Barr Stadium which has raised the hackles of Otago rugby supporters on social media. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON

The cheek of it. Not content with stealing Kieran Moffat for this year's ITM Cup campaign, the Southlanders are now taunting us in our own backyard.

Or maybe not. A maroon and gold billboard at the eastern end of Forsyth Barr Stadium has the simple message: ''To find the home of the real southern man, head down Highway 1 about 200km.''

Them's fightin' words. But are they really? It seems similar billboards are popping up outside stadiums around New Zealand.

A billboard near AMI Stadium in Christchurch promotes Taranaki's status as last year's premiership winners and another in the Bay Of Plenty is also ''courtesy'' of the Taranaki union.

Otago Rugby Football Union commercial manager Monique Wright remained coy about the source of the billboard and whether it was part of a central marketing campaign by New Zealand Rugby.

''I couldn't comment about that,'' Wright said, laughing.

Regardless of who has paid for the billboards, judging by the furious commenting and ''liking'' on the provinces' Facebook pages, it has had the desired effect.

A photo of the billboard appeared on Otago Rugby's Facebook page on Thursday, imploring followers to reach 3500 likes and comments '' to get this mess replaced''.

''We've got over 5000 likes on our Facebook page and about 340 comments,'' Wright said.

''The more likes we get, the quicker it's able to be changed over. With them popping up around the country along with ITM Cup, it's about provincial rivalries.

Otago hosts Southland at Forsyth Barr Stadium on September 26.

''Hopefully it gets taken down by then, so they get our retort when they come back into town.''

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