The New Zealand rugby team have been banned from communicating directly with their followers on Twitter for the upcoming World Cup. This amid fears the microblogging website will prove a distraction during the tournament.
With the All Blacks under pressure to ditch their tag as World Cup chokers when New Zealand hosts the rugby showcase in September-October, coach Graham Henry said the days of players freely tweeting their thoughts were over.
“We haven’t had a policy up till now, we’ve just asked them to make good decisions about that,” he told Sky Sports on Thursday.
Speaking about the general conduct of the players on Twitter, which is used by prominent players such as
Cory Jane (@coryjane1080) and Piri Weepu (@powza13), Henry added that:”In the All Blacks’ camp, most of the time, they’ve made good decisions — but at Rugby World Cup time — zilch.”
Players have also been warned against using private Facebook pages, blogging and writing newspaper columns for the duration of the tournament.
Although not the first twitter ban for the duration of a sporting event, the All Black moratorium is markedly different to that placed on all teams during the Cricket World Cup, earlier this year. Rather than any attempt to curb placer distraction, the ban during the ICC spectacular was put in place amidst fears of match-fixing.
A blanket ban on Twitter was also imposed on the golfers in last year’s Ryder Cup, in the hopes of avoiding any comments which might cause trouble.
As sportsmen become more digitally aware, team managers are having to come up with new strategies for managing the level of electronic distraction in the lives of their players. It is no longer sufficient to ban players from going to bars for the course of a tournament or to stop them from seeing their wives and girlfriends the night before a match.
“We don’t want players doing it (tweeting) individually, it just creates distraction,” All Black manager, Darren Shand told the Dominion Post newspaper. “We want to be totally focused on the job at hand.”
Nonetheless, All Black management will have to tread carefully when it comes to keeping their players out of the public eye. Management, however, have stressed that do not wish to alienate the host-nation’s support base.
“We won’t be shutting ourselves away from the world,” Shan said.
He added that fans would be able to follow an official All Blacks twitter feed during the tournament. – AFP