Friends don’t let friends drink and tweet
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!”