Why clubs, players should embrace social media banter
Over the last week, there have been some NRL clubs spitting fire over Twitter… and I am all around it.
The lead up to the game between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Sydney Roosters was the most heated battle between two club Twitter accounts I have ever seen.
In my view, it's about time that a rivalry that has spanned 110 years spilled over into social media so fans can get involved too.
It started early last week.
The Rabbitohs fired the first shot with a light-hearted jab at the Roosters, highlighting the 'culture, tradition and heritage' which exists at the Bunnies (but doesn't at the Chooks).
The best the Roosters could do was come back with #SaltySouths.
Souths then fired up again, Tweeting the following:
Perhaps a more accurate Tweet would have been 'hate's a strong word… Unless you're talking about the Sydney Roosters [or Manly]'.
I thought the Roosters had won the Twitter battle with this absolute pearler, hitting Bunnies fans where it hurts by referring to their expulsion from the competition in the late 1990s to early 2000s:
But then Souths hit back with my favourite burn of the week, providing some exclusive footage of a Roosters 'Juniors Day Out'. Hint: there wasn’t much to see.
For Souths though, it seems like this battle over social media is not just about highlighting and intensifying an already fierce rivalry.
Ahead of their game against the Canberra Raiders this weekend, the Bunnies are at it again and nothing is safe from ridicule… not even the Viking Clap.
Well done to the Canberra Raiders for getting into the spirit too:
We need to see more of this. One of rugby league’s greatest strengths is that as a game we don't take ourselves too seriously and that we can laugh at each other.
These gentle jibes humanise our clubs and help to remind us that even though plenty of us take our footy seriously, we can still have a laugh together too [sometimes at the expense of each other].
I'm also really pleased to see Souths leading the way on this initiative, particularly considering that this is a club that has been subject to much ridicule over the years through the #LolAtSouffs hashtag or through 'Random Souffs Fan', which at one point encapsulated a pathetic Bunnies fan who would wear their Souths jersey everywhere, to now becoming a cult hero on social media and the NRL's version of 'Where’s Wally'.
It comes as no surprise that this social media battle is setting our feeds alight, particularly when our players have been taking the mickey out of each other for years.
Some of my favourite posts have included Josh Reynolds nominating Matt Frawley for the Bachelor last year on Instagram. And if anyone's asking, 'Yes, Matt I will accept this rose'.
But the kings of social media banter have to be Nathan Peats and Darcy Lussick. There is never any love lost between these two and there have been some absolute pearlers exchanged between the two of them. Some of my favourites have included:
But to be fair, no player is immune from the wrath of Peats over social media.
Social media is an incredibly powerful tool and our clubs have well and truly embraced the opportunity to bring us closer to the footy players that play in the NRL.
In particular, the last couple of seasons have seen our clubs work harder than ever before to bring fans innovative, fun content, which helps bring the fan closer to the club than ever before.
To start the season off this year we saw the Wests Tigers announce their squad on Twitter via their fans. The Tigers social media team identified fans of particular players [in some cases super fans] and asked them to reveal their favourite player in the new jersey.
As a fan, so much of what people look for is belonging and initiatives like this are a really good way of making the fans feel like they are part of something.
Social media has given fans the opportunity to be closer to their favourite athletes than closer before. Now, we are given real glimpses into our athletes personal lives and given the opportunity to see the more human side of them.
Because of what I consume on social media, I know that Angus Crichton loves a 'Bubble-O-Bill', that Josh Hoffman is a really good dancer, that Josh Dugan has an adorable dog, and that Anthony Milford is a pretty good basketball player.
But with this greater connectedness and ease in communication, we also need to remember our responsibilities as fans.
Being more closely connected to our players, means that we have increased ability to talk with them, encourage them, but also disappointingly it seems that it has given some fans the opportunity to directly hurl abuse at players and club Twitter accounts, when things on the field are not going well.
It is so easy to forget from behind a computer screen that somebody is reading your words.
But regardless of whether someone is reading it or not, initiatives like 'Stay Kind', 'R U Ok' and 'State of Mind', this can all very easily be forgotten when things aren't going well.
This week Todd Greenberg has been encouraging all of us to #TalkUpTheGame. Social media is a wonderful way of doing this.
So use your account to tell the world why you love your footy so much, but more importantly to tell your favourite clubs and players why you admire them too.
Oh, and to any club playing the Parramatta Eels over the coming weeks, please go gently on the Twitter sass. Us Parramatta fans are feeling a little bit delicate at the moment.