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Six Nations: Wales players impose Twitter ban

Adam Jones, Shane Williams, Alun Wyn Jones and Jamie Roberts
Adam Jones, Shane Williams, Alun Wyn Jones and Jamie Roberts are all tweeters

2011 Six Nations Championship - Wales v England
Venue: Millennium Stadium Date: Friday, 4 February Kick-off: 1945 GMT
Coverage: Watch live on BBC One from 1930 (BBC Wales and Red Button from 1900); listen on BBC Radio 5 live and BBC Radio Wales; live text commentary on BBC Sport website and mobiles

The Wales squad have imposed a voluntary Twitter ban for their entire Six Nations Championship campaign.

Any player discovered posting tweets on the social networking site is warned they can expect a "substantial fine."

"As a group of players we have just decided to protect ourselves more than anything," said Wales centre and self-confessed tweeter Jamie Roberts.

"You can certainly make the headlines if you put something controversial up there, as... players have found out."

High-profile sportsmen have been forced to apologise or even fined following Twitter outbursts and revelations.

Former Liverpool striker Ryan Babel was fined £10,000 in January when he linked to a mocked-up picture of referee Howard Webb in a Manchester United shirt after Liverpool lost 1-0 at Old Trafford in the FA Cup.

It means that we have more time to get on the computers, do some analysis, rather than go on and talk about your love life or what film you watched on the weekend

Wales wing Shane Williams

Cricket star Kevin Pietersen and footballer Darren Bent have also been forced to apologise for rants on Twitter.

Wales centre Roberts himself tweeted his discontent of the Welsh Rugby Union using Gavin Henson on a poster promoting the launch of their new kit in 2010, despite Henson not having played for Wales for more than a year.

Roberts later deleted his original comment.

Wales team-mate Jonathan Thomas then found himself in trouble with the Welsh Rugby Union in 2010 after making a remark on Twitter about the sexuality of gay Welsh rugby referee Nigel Owens.

Thomas was forced to apologise but Owens laughed it off as just banter.

England have no specific policy as the RFU said: "Our general view is to be relaxed and grown up about it."

And Martin Johnson is quoted as saying: "We let our players to it. We trust them to do the right thing. They know the penalties if they don't, or what that can do for the team."

Roberts and Wales colleagues Shane Williams, Jonathan Thomas, Lee Byrne, Alun Wyn Jones, Josh Turnbull and George North are regular tweeters.

"It's just to look after ourselves and protect ourselves from any media flak as such," added British and Irish Lions star Roberts.

"We decided, as a group of players, to ban it during the campaign. It's not a huge issue. I'm sure the boys will live.

"I've missed it certainly. I just keep in touch with what everyone else is doing on there and not just go on there myself.

Wales coach Warren Gatland discusses Wales and England similarities

"There is a big fine if you write a post now, so the boys are watching each other. I can't disclose that fee, but it is quite substantial.

"I think the boys would be quite frustrated if any of us go on there and especially put anything controversial.

"We are just protecting ourselves as a group of players and as a union."

Wing Williams believes the self-imposed ban is the right thing to do.

"A lot of boys spend a lot of time on there whether it's just self-promotion or charity work," said the Lions star.

"But I think the Six Nations is all about concentrating on the rugby. I think it's quite a clever ban really.

"It means that we have more time to get on the computers, do some analysis, rather than go on and talk about your love life or what film you watched on the weekend.

"So I think it s a bit of the boys growing up and realising we have got a job of work to do."

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see also
Wales admit Hook fly-half debate
03 Feb 11 |  Welsh
Gibbs labels Ospreys 'disgrace'
03 Feb 11 |  Ospreys
Wales pick Hook in full-back role
02 Feb 11 |  Welsh
Flanker Wood handed England debut
02 Feb 11 |  Rugby Union
Henson back in Wales rugby shirt
08 Sep 10 |  Welsh
Babel fined for Twitter posting
17 Jan 11 |  Liverpool
Pietersen apologises for outburst
01 Sep 10 |  England
Gay ref laughs off Twitter banter
11 Feb 10 |  Wales
Bent apologises for online rant
31 Jul 09 |  Tottenham

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