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Rugby stars agree to Twitter blackout

Irish players agree to an informal policy which restricts their online engagement around game time.

Image: Daniel Law/PA Wire

IRELAND’S TWEETING RUGBY STARS have agreed to stay away from the social media site in the hours before and after games, according to reports in today’s Irish Times.

Speaking ahead of the side’s trip to Cardiff, Irish team manager Paul McNaughton informed reporters that an informal Twitter policy had been introduced on a temporary basis, with the rules and regulations likely to be reviewed prior to the World Cup in New Zealand.

Although McNaughton stressed that the IRFU has no problem with players interacting with supporters online, there was a fear that social media could cause unnecessary distractions in the run-up to matches.

The squad has agreed not to tweet around match time. We haven’t banned tweeting generally, but around match time the squad have agreed to extend the period of time when there will be no tweeting.

We are developing the policy anyway because it will have to be a fairly rigid one in terms of the World Cup. Not so much in what they say to fans but in terms of commercial arrangements.

The decision to introduce this match-time blackout was taken after players and fans exchanged Twitter barbs following the team’s narrow victory over Scotland two weeks ago.

In the hours following the game, captain Brian O’Driscoll was singled out for some particularly harsh criticism with one tweeter encouraging him to retire.

Great game today !! Time to retire while we still have good memories of how good you were many years ago. Go gracefully.

In response, Cian Healy, Jamie Heaslip and Tommy Bowe all declared themselves pleased with having won the game, bluntly requesting that fans take their negativity and criticism elsewhere.

Ireland: Luke Fitzgerald, Tommy Bowe, Brian O’Driscoll, Gordon Darcy, Keith Earls, Ronan O’Gara, Eoin Reddan, Cian Healy, Rory Best, Mike Ross, Donncha O’Callaghan, Paul O’Connell, Sean O’Brien, David Wallace, Jamie Heaslip.

Wales: L Byrne; L Halfpenny, J Davies, J Roberts, S Williams; J Hook, M Phillips; P James, M Rees, C Mitchell, B Davies, AW Jones, D Lydiate, S Warburton, R Jones.

Read more in John Harrington’s piece in today’s Irish Times >

Catch up with TheScore.ie’s Six Nations coverage | Twitter critics round on Ireland Six Nations stars

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Niall Kelly

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