ANALYZE: Are the All Blacks very obsessed with social media and could that have distracted them at the Rugby World Cup?
While England and the South African champions, World Cup finalists, slept mostly on social media, the All Blacks had a noisy party.
It may be ridiculous to suggest that social media was the difference between making the final or not, but did the constant use of social media rob any focus of the task at hand?
The All Blacks were above the rest of the world rugby teams in their social media offerings to fans at this 2019 Japan Rugby World Cup.
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It has gained popularity and taste all over the world – and in the hearts of those in Japan.
But England and South Africa have given little in their social accounts in the six weeks since the start of the World Cup.
Winning South African coach Rassie Erasmus held his players using social media until the work was completed. Now the team can celebrate proudly.
All professional athletes need time off the field to do what they want, whether it's shopping, golfing or singing together.
Many of the All Blacks squads are under 30, and it is only natural that men of this age and the spotlight share the fun times.
However, the first and second second – South Africa, England and New Zealand – had different results on social media.
Springboks coach Rassie Erasmus took the social media trend so seriously that it banned its players from using it.
He guided social media players to focus on playing for their country.
Erasmus himself was one of the team's most colorful coaches on the team's social account, Bok Rugby, keeping fans up to date and giving one last thanks on the eve of the final.
Captain Siya Kolisi praised Erasmus's leadership and said players no longer focus on building their social media profiles, but on performing well.
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"In the past, we tried to build on our social media and all that kind of stuff," said Kolisi.
"He just brought us back to earth and told us, 'You need to play well first, and everything else will come'."
And it worked a charm.
It is possible that social media is the new alcohol of professional sports, where coaches need to put bans, curfew, and education around it so that it does not disrupt the focus and success of a good team.
In stark contrast to the Springboks, who remained low in preparation for the final, many All Blacks kept viewers updated with almost every moment of the Cup.
Leading the defeat in the Rugby World Cup semi-final for England, All Black Sevu Reece winger was singing with kiwi band Six60 and the video went viral.
The rising star has not published, but has been reproduced in All Blacks official social media accounts.
Likewise, the first five Richie Moogga warmed up to the semifinal playing songs for the Angus Ta 'prop on a small keyboard in the hotel room, shown on Ta' s bill.
All black defender and star Beauden Barrett was on the golf course with Irish player Rory McIlroy that week.
The English team was probably doing similar activities and not getting carried away with Eddie Jones in the hotel lobby, but none of that was put on social media for the opposition or the media to capitalize on.
There could be another reason for Springboks and England's low profile on social media.
South Africa-born vision-awareness coach Dr. Sherylle Calder is a strong advocate of time-limiting mobile devices in an attempt to improve her visual skills.
"Prolonged use of a cell phone can have a huge impact on eyes and motor skills," said Calder. SA Rugby revised before the start of the World Cup.
Calder, who worked with the Springboks 2017 Rugby World Cup winning team and also helped leading golfer Ernie Els, Miami Dolphins NFL star Kenny Stills and Formula 1 driver Valtteri Bottas, says much Time on screen can affect an athlete's judgment skills.
"How you focus and react is affected when you spend so much time in front of a cell phone screen. It's probably one of the biggest threats in modern gaming," she said. SA Rugby.
"You see players using their phones nonstop. We try to impact that from day one, because it makes a difference in the long run. Judgment skills are affected, which can affect capture, passing, space visualization, kicking, attacking." , get up for alignments, throws, restart … in other words, everything.
When you restrict your focus to a phone screen, you unlearn your awareness and judgment skills. You obviously cannot succeed in the field of rugby unless you have a greater awareness. "
After England reached the final, England Rugby released a documentary about their semi-final preparations against All Blacks. It focused on team meetings and activities.
Since the start of the tournament, Beauden Barrett has posted 18 photos on her Instagram page and many more on Instagram Mystory.
Compare that to the lack of social media activity by English rugby captain Owen Farrell.
Farrell's last social media post was on July 5th – a mandatory paid advertisement for a banking company in England.
English playmaker George Ford posted an opening photo before the tournament but was quiet.
Klerk's popular Springbok Faf posted only three photos on his account between the tournament opening and the final, all generic rugby.
Kolisi posted an Instagram at each end of the tournament, days before the final, a photo of his inspirational "Our Blood Is Green" and a thank you to Springbok fans in the caption.
Coldhead Handre Pollard posted eight photos in the tournament, just two of those non-rugby activities. While the highest number for a Springbok is ten less than Barrett's total. Pollard has not posted on MyStory or fan updates.
All social accounts of black captain Kieran Read were silent during the World Cup.
Former All Black captain Richie McCaw, who led All Blacks to 2011 and 2015 Rugby World Cup wins, does not have a Twitter or Instagram account.
In the eight years between 2011 and now, social media has changed and grown. McCaw was also 30 and 34 when he raised the Webb Ellis Cup.
Social media is a good and undoubtedly necessary tool for players to connect with fans and share their personalities, as well as the ups and downs we saw during the Japan Rugby World Cup.
It has also become a source of mainstream media, reducing the need for players to confront journalists.
But of the teams that fell short and those who reached the final, one obvious difference not shown on the scoreboard was the discipline in using these social media channels.