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How the 'disillusioned' Mike Brown fell back in love with rugby

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Davies/PA Images via Getty Images)

Ex-England full-back Mike Brown has taken to Linkedin to reveal the rejuvenating effect that his recent week of rugby with the Barbarians had. Not since a March 12 spin for Newcastle versus Saracens had he been in the thick of it on the field but that changed on November 17 – after a whopping 36-week gap – when he played for the Baa-Baas against Harlequins, the club where he was an emblematic influence ever since a 2005 pre-season debut.

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The 37-year-old also featured in the touring team’s clash three days later versus Bath, demonstrating how spot-on he was in his preparations to be ready for the games in quick succession against two Gallagher Premiership clubs.

In a recent, compelling one-to-one interview with RugbyPass, he explained how he was maintaining his fitness despite not being contracted to a club in 2022/23. “I continued to run on my own but that became a bit bleak so I took it more into the gym fitness.

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“But in the last few weeks, I have picked up the running stuff and gone back to seeing (sprint coach) Margot Wells again because I’m going to play for the Barbarians against Quins and Bath in a couple of weeks, so I have picked up training again so that I’m sharp, fit and ready to play some rugby.”

Playing that rugby with the Barbarians sure had a transformative impact on Brown. “It’s amazing how certain things in life turn up at exactly the right time,” he wrote in his post on Linkedin, the careers platform. “It was an honour to represent and captain the great Barbarians against Harlequins and Bath. It was one of the best weeks of my rugby career on and off the field.

“Having become disillusioned with the sport through some tough times the last few years personally and the negativity surrounding the game, it was exactly the experience I needed to fall back in love with rugby. An environment of enjoyment, belonging, creating connections, freedom, encouragement to express yourself, being brave on the field… all created in a couple of days with people from all over the world, with different personalities and backgrounds.

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“Amazing memories made with a special group of people and great lessons on environments and leadership for me to take forward into a future career. Thank you, Barbarians! Flick the switch and leave your mark.”

It now remains to be seen if how Brown played last week for the Barbarians becomes the catalyst for a contract offer from a club willing to pick up his services. When speaking to RugbyPass, he described how brutal the recruitment market has been this year. “No, none at all,” he replied when asked if there genuinely was truth in any of the rumours he was off here, there and everywhere.

“There was a period of about four weeks where I was linked to some teams as ridiculous as Saracens. I mean, they would never have picked me up. One because of my stint with Quins and two because they don’t need me.

“There was Sarries, there was Sale, there was Worcester at one point before what happened, happened [the club’s financial collapse], other people like that, and then it was Agen, but I literally haven’t spoken to anyone. None of them are true, unfortunately. I’m still waiting if one comes but it’s more working towards my transition and then whichever opportunity comes first, if it fits then that is what I will take.”

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