THE BLOG

Why the England Rugby Team Needs a Twitter-Free Week

04/03/2014 16:51 GMT | Updated 04/05/2014 10:59 BST

I don't mind admitting it: when it comes to social media and rugby players (past and present) I'm a bit of a groupie. That said I'm a mature, sensible groupie with a busy life running a business and a home, but I'm a groupie nevertheless.

So it will come as no surprise that during the Six Nations every year I go into rugby-fuelled overdrive. Oh, and regarding this coming weekend, can I just say #ComeOnEngland #CarryThemHome? We're playing a quiet little match on Sunday at Twickenham against Wales, for those who don't know; it's no biggie. #Much.

My love of the oval-shaped ball game has deepened since my son started playing four years ago, who incidentally was born in the same hospital as Jonny Wilkinson and Toby Flood and is already showing a remarkable (in the words of his coaches) talent for kicking the ball ... that's all I'm saying. And as a mum who can be a little protective from time to time, I've started to appreciate how vital encouragement can be and also how destructive and confidence-sapping negative comments are.

The huge surge in social media popularity has meant that many players are now collecting loyal and committed followings, tweeting little snippets of their lives and sometimes Instagramming the odd snapshot of what's going on in their world right now. It's like we're all now one step closer to those who previously were only images on a TV screen, thanks to the magic of the smartphone.

Now of course our professional sports men and women are made of sterner and more resilient stuff than my little future England (non-tweeting) fly-half, but it does occur to me that maybe, just maybe taking to the social media airwaves in the lead up to any big bruising encounter isn't perhaps the best preparation they could get involved with, given that not everyone has positive things to say all the time.

My thoughts on this are quite simple: a social media-free zone really should be enforced prior to a big match for many reasons, not just the one I've outlined above. Or at the very least they shouldn't be reading messages with great fervency. Some just won't be conducive to a #HugeEnglandWin, you see.

Leave it to the roar of the Twickenham crowd and relinquish the desperate urge to post an update to the likes of me. It's my job. No, really... it is.

It takes a supercool, calm and collected 20-something to not be affected or swayed by less-than-complimentary feedback, and whilst our professional teams may be psyched up to within an inch of their lives to win a match, is it worth leaving it to chance? Put the smartphone down, and walk away.

Now that said and when all is done and dusted, we love pictures in the dressing room of the post-match celebrations. Really, I can't think of a woman my age (or of any age, for that matter) who didn't appreciate the photo of Tom Wood, Chris Robshaw and Billy Vunipola in the England dressing room with the newly-won Calcutta Cup. Thank you, gentlemen; it was a photographic masterpiece.

And that little spat between Niall Horan and Mike Phillips after the Ireland-Wales match? Very funny for the rest of us looking on, but did Mike Phillips really need winding up any more than he already was? I don't think so.

So in conclusion, if you're one of our sporting heroes I'd recommend treating social media like alcohol before any big sporting test... It may be tempting but even the smallest little tipple could land you in trouble.

On the other hand, if you're running out onto the sacred turf of Twickenham on Sunday with the red rose on your shirt then I'm sure you've got bigger and better things to worry about.

#ComeOnEngland!