Mike Brown reflects on England’s Six Nations disappointment
England and Harlequins full-back Mike Brown discusses Six Nations disappointment and the World Cup
Mike Brown has been in the wars in recent weeks and he has the scars to prove it.
But he insists he is ready to battle for his World Cup starting place and is also determined to inject some much-needed confidence into club-side Harlequins’ stuttering season.
There are still positives to take out of it and we have to look at the bigger picture
Twelve months ago Brown concluded a Six Nations campaign that ended with an identical result, a second place in the table behind Joe Schmidt’s Ireland.
But he was also a winner, edging out retiring legend Brian O’Driscoll to be named player of the tournament, with four tries underlining his commitment to the cause.
This time around, there were no personal accolades to dull the disappointment of a fourth consecutive runners-up place.
However, Brown believes the manner of England’s memorable 55-35 victory over France is a reason to be optimistic ahead of this autumn’s Rugby World Cup.
But he refutes suggestions by RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie that another second place was ‘unacceptable’.
“I haven’t done too much reflecting but it’s massively disappointing to end the way that we did,” said Brown, speaking at the Rosslyn Park HSBC National Schools Sevens – the world’s largest schools rugby tournament.
“It was great how we went about the game and how we won but it’s disappointing that we didn’t achieve our goal of winning it. It’s the fourth time I’ve been involved where I’ve come second but luckily I don’t get bitter.
“We’ll keep going as a squad, keep using things like this to develop us. There are still positives to take out of it and we have to look at the bigger picture.”
The free-scoring, free-flowing nature of last weekend’s classic at Twickenham was compared by many to a rugby league game.
Brown is an admitted fan of the 13-man code and Quins famously released a statement titled ‘Brown stays with rugby’ when he briefly flirted with a switch.
However, Brown believes he has done enough in recent weeks to cement his place as Stuart Lancaster’s first choice full-back, ahead of rival Alex Goode, who deputised when he missed the defeat in Dublin after picking up a head injury early in the win over Italy.
“I was very happy with my tournament. When I actually played, I thought I did well,” added Brown, who was casting his eye over the next generation of stars at Rosslyn Park – an event that has previously produced the likes of Gareth Edwards, Lawrence Dallaglio, Will Carling, and Ugo Monye.
“I think my game has come on loads this season. Last year it was all about my running game but I think I’ve shown that my kicking game has come on alongside my passing game and my defensive game. As long as I can keep improving, I will be happy.
“It’s just a shame that I did take a knock and missed one a three quarter games, including the big one in Ireland.
“We’ve spoken about competition for places and 15 is definitely one that is strongly contested. Alex did well, unfortunately he was in that losing team against Ireland but he did well with his opportunity.
“Saying that, I don’t want to give him too many opportunities – he is a great player so it is good to have that rivalry and push each other in training.
“Maybe before people might have said he had a better kicking game but I think after this tournament, people can see my kicking game isn’t too bad either.”
Brown and Goode should be going head-to-head at Wembley this weekend when the two sides clash in front of what is expected to be a world record crowd for a club rugby match.
But Brown is sidelined again due to another concussion precaution, after picking up a knock late in the famous win over France.
“We’re being a little cautious with that and we’re giving it time to recover,” he said.
“After a head knock it’s always a big thing to come back playing, especially with two internationals it can be tough.
“I’ve got next week off because we don’t have a game so it’s a good two weeks down time.
“It’s not been a good campaign for Harlequins and this game could hopefully spark our season. We’ve worked well at times but we haven’t been consistent and don’t deserve to be up there.
“That’s something to look at in the off season but there’s still games to go where we can put ourselves in a good position to be in Europe for next year and that’s definitely where we want to be – at the top table of European rugby.”
England Rugby Union player, Mike Brown was speaking on behalf of HSBC at the Rosslyn Park HSBC National Schools Sevens where he helped run HSBC coaching clinics for schools during the tournament. For exclusive rugby content, follow @HSBC_Sport