Media Spoils Large Chunk Of Lions Squad Announcement

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 19: (Editor's note: Image converted into black and white). Lion's captain Sam Warburton faces the media during the British and Irish Lions Tour Squad and Captain annoucement at London Syon Park Hotel on April 19, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
LWOR editor Michael Pulman takes a look at the media coverage leading up to this week’s announcement of the 2017 British & Irish Lions squad for the tour to New Zealand.

It was one of the most anticipated squad announcements in rugby history; but it was also highly spoiled by many in the mainstream media. Who was surprised to hear that Sam Warburton is the captain of the British & Irish Lions for the second tour in a row? Nobody.

First it was a fellow Lions centre predicting the selection, and then a photo emerged that all but confirmed Warburton’s captaincy. The likes of BBC and Telegraph had already confirmed the announcement over an hour before the press conference. There was no surprise – and no chance for the Lions themselves to be the first to say it.

England captain, and New Zealand-born Dylan Hartley’s omission had already been leaked and confirmed by the same media sources. Here at LWOR – we reported that Jamie Roberts and Ben Te’o were likely to make selection.

Did The Media Spoil The Lions Squad Announcement?

You can look at this in one of two ways. On the one hand; the media have a responsibility to report the news, and the speed that this is done in also packs a huge amount of paramount. With social media; very few secrets remain in any industry with big following. The Lions squad announcement was big news for a worldwide audience, so the media did nothing wrong by putting their stories up as soon as they came to hand.

On the other hand; you can look at how the Lions media team handled security around such things like the photo of Warburton pictured with coaches. How was it allowed to leak to the media and was it planned? Most probably.

My argument here is that it would’ve been nice to see the Lions be given the chance to make the announcement themselves. Sure, they had the platform and a massive audience tuning in live at midday on Wednesday, but they element of surprise was lost, in so many aspects. Is there any such thing as “new” news anymore in sport? You be the judge.

“Main photo credit”