Friends don’t let friends drink and tweet

CityPress - - Sport - Dan Retief dan.retief@city­press.co.za Fol­low me on Twit­ter @retief­dan

Quade Cooper, the en­fant ter­ri­ble of Aus­tralian rugby, has been at it again – snag­ging the Twit­ter trip­wire. Cooper could not con­tain him­self when goaded by a fan on the so­cial net­work­ing site, af­ter mid­night it should be added, and let fly.

It was af­ter the Wal­la­bies had beaten the Pu­mas in their Rugby Cham­pi­onship match in Men­doza – and there might have been al­co­hol con­sumed, in time­worn rugby tra­di­tion – but Cooper laced his tweets with the most fa­mous of all ex­ple­tives.

And, as is the way with so­cial media, the well-known per­son had to deal with the fall­out while the troll re­mained face­less and name­less.

Cooper apol­o­gised, as­sured alarmed media and fans that his twit­burst was not aimed at the Wal­la­bies – af­ter all this was the same place where Kurt­ley Beale, with his not-so-smart phone, caused a ma­jor ruckus last year – and it seems he will be for­given.

Get­ting into dis­pro­por­tion­ate trou­ble for 140-char­ac­ter flares of tem­per has be­come the bane of the fa­mous, and ath­letes seem par­tic­u­larly prone to step­ping on the land­mines that lie hid­den in the Twit­ter zone.

Some re­marks are down­right stupid, but many are just wise­cracks one would make among friends.

But as they say, dy­na­mite comes in small pack­ages, and the most in­no­cent of quips can be mis­un­der­stood and ex­plode into a rag­ing fire of ac­cu­sa­tions and pre­sump­tions on so­cial media.

It is clearly with this in mind that the Eng­land team have moved to ban loose and fast fin­gers on the mo­bile.

In 2003, Eng­land coach Sir Clive Wood­ward, renowned for his metic­u­lous plan­ning, added an em­i­nent ju­rist in the shape of a Queen’s Coun­sel to de­fend play­ers in the event of dis­ci­plinary hear­ings.

It worked, with Lawrence Dal­laglio get­ting away with a piece of foul play against the Spring­boks in Perth that would surely have been sanc­tioned had the learned mem­ber of the Eng­land squad not tied the tri­bunal in knots.

Thus Chris Rob­shaw and his Eng­land play­ers have been told to keep their emo­tions in check dur­ing the rugby World Cup – although, strangely, with some­what neg­a­tive em­pha­sis on what not to do if they suf­fer a loss.

Eng­land play­ers have been is­sued with a 24-point so­cial-media guide, in­clud­ing warn­ings not to use Twit­ter “af­ter a tough loss” (does that mean they ex­pect to lose?) and not to “en­gage in ar­gu­ments”.

Eng­land are the hosts of the World Cup – now 40 days away – in Septem­ber and Oc­to­ber and don’t want any con­tro­ver­sies dis­rupt­ing their bid for a sec­ond ti­tle.

They have al­ready banned play­ers from writ­ing news­pa­per col­umns and mak­ing video di­aries and, while not declar­ing so­cial media taboo, have is­sued a com­pre­hen­sive guide­line on its use.

“Do not post when you are in a bad mood or im­me­di­ately af­ter a tough loss,” pro­claim the Rugby Football Union rules which, al­ready in­di­cat­ing less than wa­ter­tight team pri­vacy, were ob­tained by The Tele­graph.

“Once you’ve posted some­thing online, it can al­ways be tracked back to you. Even if you delete it.

“It may be that you don’t use your phones af­ter a cer­tain hour dur­ing the evening, or turn them off com­pletely on the morn­ing of a game.

“En­gag­ing in a public Twit­ter ar­gu­ment is a bat­tle you won’t win.

“Do not post pic­tures of drink­ing, smok­ing or nu­dity, or tweet while driv­ing.”

It all seems so ob­vi­ous, but clearly Eng­land want no in­ci­dents.

Bet­ter the old South African coach’s de­cree: “If any of you so much as touch a phone and drop me in the s**t, you’re on the next plane home!”

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