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Supersport fires rugby commentator for ‘improper tweeting’

Respected rugby pundit and former Western Province prop Andrew “Tank” Lanning has been fired as a Supersport rugby commentator for a series of tweets he sent while attending a commentary workshop on Wednesday.

In a statement Supersport explains that “Lanning chose to tweet regarding various confidential matters pertaining to both SuperSport and SA rugby”. The tweets contained information about subscriber and viewer numbers of recent rugby games.

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But Lanning disagrees, claiming the offending tweets contained comments about rugby management and the way players are managed during a World Cup year. He believes that the broadcaster “completely over-reacted”.


Lanning claims the tweets were “innocuous” and “not on the record” and when he was asked by SA Rugby to delete them, he complied.

Supersport said the “medium was irrelevant” and that this was an issue about a “breach of confidentiality”.

Lanning spoke to Memeburn and explained how, following the tweet, Supersport cancelled a 10AM meeting with him on Thursday morning. According to Lanning, he fired back an email complaining about the cancellation, to which Supersport replied they would prefer to “cut ties” altogether.

But the sports broadcaster also suggested that it was Lanning who “proposed that he part ways with Supersport”.

Social media policy is an increasingly complex area for large, public organisations. Lanning is the latest in a long line of public figures whose use of Twitter has increasingly come under the spotlight. Management and administators around the world are nervous about the unfiltered way these personalities are now able to connect directly with the public.

Recent examples include:

  • A Twitter ban on all cricket teams while they are involved in a game at the 2011 Cricket World Cup
  • The Manchester United football team has been banned from tweeting by management.
  • Liverpool’s Ryan Babel received a hefty fine for a tweet he sent making fun of a referee.
  • CNN presenter Octavia Nasr was fired from the broadcaster following a tweet sympathising with the death of a Hamas leader.
  • Australian swimmer Stephanie Rice lost her car sponsorship after an offensive tweet she sent.

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