All Blacks impose social media blackout for World Cup

New Zealand coach Graham Henry
Henry admitted he was not familiar with Twitter until players used it

New Zealand rugby players have been banned from using all forms of social media during the World Cup, which takes place in September and October.

A previous attitude of "advising caution" has been upgraded to a total ban by head coach Graham Henry.

"We don't want players to do it individually, it creates distraction, we want to be focused on the job at hand," said team manager Darren Shand.

He also revealed that senior players had requested a ban.

Outlets such as social networking sites Twitter and Facebook, as well as any newspaper columns or blogs, will all be forbidden for the duration of the tournament, which takes place in New Zealand and runs from 9 September-23 October.

The All Blacks will be under huge pressure to win the trophy for just the second time, having won the inaugural tournament in 1987.

They lost the 1995 final to South Africa, and were beaten by France in the 1999 semi-final and 2007 quarter-final, despite being hot favourites to win the tournament.

Social media first became an issue in the All Blacks camp on their 2009 European tour when winger Cory Jane, who has over 14,000 Twitter followers, was one of two players who tweeted that he had been dropped from the side before the news was made public.

At the time, Henry said: "I had to find out what bloody Twitter was. I thought it was a new guy playing five-eighth for England."

But he added that the World Cup ban was a precautionary measure, rather than in response to any particular incidents.

"We haven't had a policy up until now, we've just asked them to make good decisions about that and, in the All Blacks camp, most of the time, they've made good decisions," said Henry.

"But, at World Cup time, zilch."

Jane said he would respect the ban.

"just wanna play rugby & talk to fans. Thats all i wanna DO. I don't want trouble," he posted.

Meanwhile, New Zealand utility back Luke McAlister has signed a three-year contract to join French side Toulouse from Auckland Blues after the World Cup.

The 27-year-old spent two seasons playing for Sale Sharks before returning to New Zealand in 2009 to try to regain a place in the All Blacks squad.

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