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5 Twitter Commandments for famous rugby players
In the world of Premiership football, tweet-happy players can get themselves in hot water fairly frequently. We'd hate the same thing to befall a rugby pro, so we've pulled together the five Twitter Commandments every rugby player needs to know.
Recently, Liverpool's Ryan Babel managed to drop the ball with an ill-advised mock up Twitpic of referee Howard Webb wearing a Manchester United Shirt. It cost him a serious slap on the risk and a cool £10,000 fine from the notoriously humour-free suits at the FA. Shame he didn't have our Twitter commandments to keep him on the straight and narrow.
1 Thou shalt know this: thy manager is god and careless tweeting costs careers
Managers are not usually big fans of Twitter and when players take dressing room disagreements and strategic secrets in to the realm of 140 characters they can find themsevles in serious trouble. For England internationals that's particularly true, coach Martin Johnson considers Twitter a dirty word and has made it clear that any player who steps out of line on a social network may "not be an England player for very long." Asked by the BBC whether he'd join the 'Twitterati', Johnson was typically forthright: "Don't hold your breath."
2 Thou shalt talk to your fans but not too much
Tweeting can be a smart way to get more fans and make a name for yourself outside of rugby (handy for retirement when the spectre of having to laugh at Sue Barker's jokes on A Question of Sport looms ominously). But, whoever you are, you have to be careful to avoid the dangerous phenomenon of over-tweeting. A constrant stream of banal observations and telling the world what you had for breakfast will not endear you to your fans. Don't reveal too much either or you're likely to have a tabloid newspaper reporter diving through your bins. Avoiding that kind of Twitter-fuelled tabloid scandal is what we call A Reverse Manford.
3 Thou shalt beware of the trolls
The Internet is home to a huge crowd of jerks all ready to fire a stream of abuse at you, particularly if you don't play for their team or have just lost. Avoid going to battle with these trolls on Twitter. You will never win as they are utterly irrational and fighting with them will simply make them seem as important as you. In 2009, England's Tim Bresnan took a hapless Twitter follower down a peg or two for attempting to get involved in a bit of banter he was having with friends on the site. It wasn't necessary and made everyone involved look a little silly. Keep calm when it comes to the bullies, they are just the twonks of Twitter.
4 Thy public image is thine own to shape
For rugby players fed up of being charicatured by the press, Twitter is a godsend. Olly Barkley of Bath and England says: "If you post two or three times a day on Twitter and someone follows you for a couple of months, they'll get a pretty good idea of what you're really like." While you can't control what the press prints about you, you can make people aware of what you're really like via Twitter. One warning though: think before you tweet, many a good man has said something they've lived to regret on Twitter.
5 Thou art all equal in the eyes of Twitter
Getting a following on Twitter isn't just about who you play for, it's also about how funny you are and how you interact with your followers. In the eyes of the Twitter massive, you are just another source of short messages about the world. If you're interesting, responsive and funny, you'll rack up plenty of followers. The few really boring celebs who have little to say only have lots of Twitter followers because of their profile. Rugby players, seen by thousands at their matches, can quickly build up a big number but don't get into a mindset where you're desperately chasing a bigger number. We the fans want to see you chasing the ball and your opponents instead!
So, now we've got the first five nailed, can you help us complete the set? What are your top twitter tips? Let us know in the comments below.