Lions players to set their own rules

Warren Gatland

Warren Gatland

British and Irish Lions players will set their own guidelines about drinking and social media use during this summer’s tour of New Zealand.

When players received their contracts for the tour, they contained a clause prohibiting use of social media during a “specified period of time prior to the kick-off of a match and after the conclusion of a match, to be advised by the tour head of communications”.

This will now be invoked only in extreme circumstances, with the players themselves taking ownership of the situation the rest of the time.

The approach seems to echo that of the All Blacks themselves, who encourage their players to set and police the rules within their camp. Mental skills coach Gilbert Enoka explained that this could go so far as one of the players pulling up the head coach - which has happened before.

“Steve Hansen, a brilliant man, once came into a team meeting a few minutes late,” Enoka said. “As he walked in, one of the senior players stood up and said, ‘Coach, you can’t be late. Not again, please.’ So it’s actually the team monitoring this behaviour.”

Charlie McEwen, chief operating officer of the Lions, explained: “The team will have a social media and content committee made up of players.

"Absolutely 100%. From a British and Irish Lions perspective, we’ll be putting content out there every single day that will be telling a story, but we’ll get the support from the players to make sure that what we put out is what they want us to put out.

“Equally, we’ll look to them, through their own channels and own networks, to manage what they’re doing for themselves.”

The 41 members of the squad have been given a 'social media pack' that includes guidelines about not publishing any sensitive squad information before it is publicly announced, or making negative comments about opposition players, coaches and match officials.

“We will educate the guys on what those guidelines will look like but it’s up to them to determine what they actually are,” McEwen told the Telegraph Business of Sport Conference.

He said the same principles would apply to drinking.

“Going out for a beer is a great way to break down barriers," he said. "You’ve got four completely different cultures coming together in one jersey to represent the Lions and it’s important that they set their own guidelines.”

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