Saturday, July 27, 2013

Social Media in Rugby

What happens on tour, goes on Facebook and Twitter, says Ginine Power…

Rugby Opinion

Social Media has been great for me connecting with fellow rugby fans, I’ve made so many friends through twitter and our mutual love of the game. I also love that social media allow us to interact with the players, for example last 29th February I asked Rob Kearney to marry me on twitter. I got a good laugh from his reply asking if he could think about it. ( Still waiting for an answer Rob)

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While Social Media is great for the fans, unfortunately it is not always the case for the players. There are a few incidents at the moment that would have been unnoticed were it not for Social Media.

I'm sure by now you've all heard about the threesome involving 2 Irish rugby players. Basically a girl told her friend via private mail on facebook about a threesome she had with these 2 players. This conversation was then screengrabbed and of course went viral. This was then added to by a whatsapp screengrab which seems to back up the story and apparently there is a video circulating too. The poor girl felt the need to leave the country. 

If this had happened in the days before social media (remember them, when it took 2 hours to connect to the internet and when you finally got on, your mother had to use the phone) no one would have any idea that this had happened. I have discussed this with some friends who are or were part of rugby clubs and apparently this sort of stuff is not uncommon and it's just a funny story for the dressing room. These guys need to realise that unfortunately they are in the public eye and these type of stories are now easily shared and spread like wildfire.

Another story is going around now about one of those players breaking car antennas off and getting into a fight with a US Marine because of it.  I’m sure the player thought America would be a great place for a holiday as they would be anonymous over there but a picture of the incident was put on facebook (assuming by an Irish person who recognized him) and once again it went viral. So trying to hide out in another country (I’m not saying that’s what he was doing, as far as I can tell this was just a conveniently scheduled holiday) is also not an option anymore.

It's not just the Irish feeling the social media wrath though. I'm sure there are many people out there who would love to punch Gavin Henson in the face and one of them is obviously his new team mate Carl Fearnes* as a video of him doing just that is circulating around the internet currently.  I'm sure a punch up in a pub is common as muck in rugby clubs (and we all know there is a lot of muck involved in rugby) however nowadays we have youtube so that it can't just be kept among those involved. These players were then punished by their club because they had to be seen to be doing something about it. I’m sure had this not be videoed and put on youtube, nobody in the club would have batted an eyelid.

It's also not just other people getting players in trouble, sometimes they manage it all by themselves. Jordi Murphy's instagram account came under scrutiny when the hash tag #I'mnotafaggot was used under a photo. Jordi has said that a friend used his phone to post the photo and has apologised but it just goes to show that the players really have to think before they post.

The Lions official twitter page seemed to adapt that “think before you post” mantra just before the tour kicked off. However it was too late for those of us that were following months in advance and witnessed some very offensive tweets from the account. The first of which came on team announcement day when they questioned how players would be feeling waiting for the call. One of the suggestions was that they may be feeling suicidal. Imagine Alan Quinlan reading that. He has been very open about the fact that losing his Lions place did make him feel suicidal and here is the official Lions page making a joke about it.

So what I am trying to say is that while in the past these things may have been common and gone unnoticed unfortunately any little mistake that players make now will be on the internet in 5 minutes. I’d like for our players to hold on to their clean, gentleman reputation and that the phrase “Football is a sport for Gentlemen and played by thugs. Rugby is a sport for thugs and played by gentlemen” doesn’t become outdated and untrue. As Nigel Owens famously said “ This is not soccer”

*I can’t find any confirmation that the player involved was definitely Carl Fearnes so apologies if this information is not correct.

My name is Ginine (@neenyP) I'm a 26 year old Leinster and Ireland loving lady. You'll mostly find me in the RDS with my mum (@gizmopuddy) who got me into the sport and feeds my obsession. When I'm not obsessing about rugby, I like to obsess about Audrey Hepburn and How I Met Your Mother.

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