The Lions are drawing up Twitter and social media guidelines for their players to observe on the tour to Australia, but they have now been forced to remove two tweets from their own official account in a week.
The Lions issued an apology after a picture of a springbok impaled on a railing was used on their Twitter account on Tuesday, accompanied by the words: "Isn't this what @lionsofficial did to Springboks in the 3rd Test in Johannesburg 2009? @qantaswallabies be warned."
Just before the 37-strong squad was announced last week, a message was posted for players hoping to make the tour: "If you're player waiting to watch TV at 11.00am to see if you're in @lionsofficial squad how are you feeling? Excited, nervous – suicidal?"
Some 90 minutes after the springbok picture and message had been posted, the Lions, who have 91,000 followers on Twitter, tweeted: "@lionsofficial would like to apologise for any offence caused by recent and inappropriate tweets."
The Lions tour manager, Andy Irvine, said last week that the tourists were determined to ensure that messages posted by players on Twitter and other social media sites did not embarrass themselves and the squad. On the last trip to Australia, in 2001, newspaper columns were used to express individual discontent.
"There is a guideline being laid down and it will encompass all the best from the home unions," he said. "It has not been finalised yet but the players will be asked to sign up. What we don't want is a repeat of 2001 – that would not be healthy for the tour.
"From past experience I know guys who don't make the Test side can sometimes be a little bit loose with their comments and I hope we can knock a bit of common sense into them. We are out there, we are all together, we know some guys will be disappointed and it is to be hoped they will behave."
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image: © Coletivo Mambembe