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When the last Rugby World Cup kicked off in 2007, Twitter was barely a year old. As the current tournament kicks off in New Zealand, the situation is very different. The social network has more than 200-miilion users and a number of the players at the tournament will be tweeting voraciously (The notable exception to this being hosts New Zealand, who have been banned from tweeting).
In celebration of the world’s most prestigious rugby tournament, Memeburn decided to take a look at some Rugby personalities that will be tweeting away.
1. John Smit:
Followers: 57 103
The Springbok captain keeps his tweets light-hearted and is more than willing to engage in banter about his teammates. Expect Smit to tweet regularly throughout the tournament.
2. Bryan Habana:
Followers: 55 323
The speedy winger holds the record for the most tries by a Springbok. Expect him to tweet voraciously throughout the course of the tournament.
3. Sebastian Chabal:
Followers: 54 774
He’s big, he’s hairy and he’s French. “Joueur de rugby, passionné de la vie,” says his bio. Who are we to disagree? Don’t expect too many on-the-spot updates from Chebel though. He missed out on the 30 man French World Cup squad.
4. Quade Cooper:
Followers: 53 500
The Wallabies and Queensland Reds number 10 has been the thorn in many an opposition team’s side. The 23 year old has said that he will be trying to enjoy every minute of the tournament.
5. Tommy Bowe:
Followers: 47 589
The Irish winger has 40 caps under his belt and will be a key part of his country’s plans for the World Cup.
6. Victor Matfield:
Followers: 44 955
The “Prince of Pretoria” tweets on a variety of subjects, including the national team’s desperate attempts to find a new series while sitting around in New Zealand.
7. Ben Foden:
Followers: 36 121
The 26-year old utility back made his England debut in 2009. Foden describes himself as a “professional egg-chaser” and looks committed to tweeting about his Rugby World Cup experience as fully as possible.
8. Lewis Moody:
Followers: 30 122
Another English rose, Moody was part of the England’s last World Cup winning squad back in 2003. He’ll be hoping his team recapture some of that spirit, rather than the anguish of defeat they felt after losing to South Africa in the 2007 final.
9. Morne Steyn:
Followers: 26 296
World Cups are frequently won and lost with penalties and drop kicks. South Africa will be hoping that their number one kicker is more focussed on slotting the ball through the posts with metronomic precision than on tweeting.
10. Shane Williams:
Followers: 24 456
An elusive runner, Williams has been behind a number of Wales’ international victories. In case you’re wondering, no, he doesn’t tweet in Welsh.
11. Cory Jane:
Followers: 20 872
The self-confessed Twitter addict has already admitted to finding the All Black’s Twitter ban difficult to deal with. His final tweet before the All Black Twitter embargo says it all:
12. Butch James:
Followers: 19 010
James was key to the Springbok’s 2007 triumph in France, his hard hits ensuring that their defence remained tight. James is one of eighteen World Cup winners in the Springbok squad set to take to the fields of New Zealand.
13. Drew Mitchell:
Followers: 17 796
At the age of 27, Mitchell is already a 44 test veteran. The versatile back will be key if Australia are to make good on their number two world ranking and reclaim the trophy they last won in 1999. He’s also released his own game app in time for the World Cup.
14. Neemia Tialata:
Followers: 15 406
Tialata has been out of favour since he was dropped from the All Black squad following a run of bad form in 2010. Expect to see the burly prop tweeting the World Cup from the comfort of his couch.
15. Olly Barkley:
Followers: 14 320
The Bath utility back made his England debut in 2001 when he was just 19. He’s battled to find a regular place in the national team since 2010 and any plans he may have had for a comeback were scuppered following a collision with South African teammate Butch James which saw him break his leg in two places.
16. Adam Ashley Cooper:
Followers: 14 397
The free-running centre will be a key part of Australia’s World Cup plan. Ashley-Cooper tweets about rugby, his teammates and his hatred of early mornings.
17. Piri Weepu:
Followers: 13 601
The New Zealand scrumhalf will be under the same conditions of silence as his teammates for the duration of the World Cup. Supporters of Weepu can still send him messages of support though as he’s promised to keep checking the social network whenever he can.
18. Toby Flood:
Followers: 13 261
Flood has one of the more entertaining bios on this list: Horse whisperer, ventriloquist, ladies swimwear model, and soft play enthusiast. Opposition teams will be hoping all those things are on his mind when England take to the field.
Followers: 36 423
Skinstad was in the Springbok squad the last time the Springboks took part in the World Cup. These days, he’s a commentator for South African broadcaster Supersport and an avid tweeter.
Followers: 44 235
Greenwood was a member of England’s World Cup winning side in 2003. He’s currently a rugby expert-in residence for Sky Sports and a columnist for the Daily Telegraph. He’s also launched his own website in time for the World Cup.
Followers: 2 241
Affectionately known as “Clarkie”, Greg Clark is the Chief Rugby commentator for Fox Sports Australia. The man knows his rugby and shares that knowledge on Twitter.
Followers: 4 695
A former Springbok communications manager, Keohane runs one of South Africa’s foremost rugby blogs. He’s also the author of a number of biographies including those of Chester Williams and Percy Montgomery. Keohane will be tweeting every moment of the World Cup live from New Zealand.