New Zealand is doing it tough with its Rugby Word Cup publicity campaigns – two have been spiked in the past week.

In the lead-up to the world’s third most watched sporting event Kiwis have been more than vocal about their distaste for two publicity stunts featuring – oddly enough – sheep and sex.

First came the bright idea of herding 2000 sheep down Auckland’s main street, Queen St, in an event called The Running of the Sheep. The plan was for the stars of the show to be accompanied by scantily cald women.

In a similar event in 2009, several sheep managed to bound crowd barriers and one woman was knocked unconcious.

When plans to repeat the show were announced recently, New Zealanders in their thousands bleated their displeasure.

Shopkeepers were worried their shops could be damaged, the New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals warned that it could cause the sheep unnecessary distress and members of the public felt that New Zealand would become the butt of even more sheep jokes.

And then this week, Telecom New Zealand was forced to withdraw an ad campaign urging Kiwis to abstain from sex during the tournament and save their energy for cheering on the All Blacks.

The  ads – featuring former All Blacks captain Sean Fitzpatrick exhorting people to “abstain for the game” – were condemned nationwide as embarrassing and offensive.

However, nearly 60 per cent of readers voting on a poll said they would rather give up sex until October 23 than face another Cup defeat.

This led therapists to warn that enforced abstinence could lead to extra stress.

“I find it concerning because good couple sex should be more fun than any sport,” sex therapist Mary Hodson told the website.