Following weeks of speculation, the RFU announced today that England head coach Stuart Lancaster has left his post by mutual consent.
The last couple of months have thrown out a mixed bag of emotions from English rugby fans, with an unimaginable early exit dampening the moods of many, combined with the immense pride of the way the tournament was hosted on home soil.
Like any major tournament, social media has played a huge role. From the beginning of the tournament when England fans eagerly tweeted the #CarryThemHome hashtag, to the eventual ongoing discussions of whether or not Lancaster should be given the boot; social media has been rooted to the heart of #RWC2015.
Ironically the hashtag was created by the RFU on their official website, as they encouraged fans to Tweet as they watched/attended games, with the overall intention to bring the English fans together as one. Things did not work out that way however (as can often be the case with hashtags), and what was supposed to be a uniting symbol of the Rugby World Cup on social media, turned into the brunt of everyone’s jokes.
The departure of the man, who was tipped as one of the next great England coaches has been heavily tracked on social media from the day England’s troubles started. Right from the final whistle of England’s narrow defeat to Wales, social media was filled with opinions on the future of Lancaster. These opinions varied from ‘sack him now’ to ‘he’ll learn in 2019’, and the debate has continued on Twitter right up until minutes before eventual departure.
Since its birth, Twitter has always been a haven for football fans, who have a seemingly endless range of opinions on the game. However, over the last couple of months, the ‘beautiful game’ has taken a back seat to ‘the game for men with odd shaped balls’. We saw the Sam Burges situation spark wildfire on social media yesterday, after the league turned union star, turned back to league. Many Twitter users had come to the opinion that this would keep Lancaster in his job, but as today’s announcement showed, it wasn’t to be.
In recent months Twitter has failed to hit their expected targets, and as a result the platform is undergoing major changes, but despite its troubles Twitter has shown that is still number one when it comes to discussion. Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest may offer the bright, shiny feel, but the open nature of Twitter and the ease at which people can provide their opinions, has been a key part to the Stuart Lancaster debate, both from fans of the game and key figures within it.
As Lancaster trends today, and will likely do so for the next couple of days, one thing is clear, the power of social media within sport is astronomical, and Twitter continues to hold the key for sporting debates online.