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'There were question marks maybe about his toughness' - the unlikely Welsh player England targeted at the 2015 RWC

By Ian Cameron

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Mike Brown has shed light on how England targeted Wales skipper Sam Warburton in the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Hosts England were famously beaten by Wales at Twickenham, a defeat that would ultimately see Stuart Lancaster’s men ignominiously bow out in the pool stages of their own World Cup.


Brown, who was the main guest on the RugbyPass Offload this week, spoke about his tussle with the Welsh captain, who he admits England had specifically targeted before the game. It may surprise some that Brown and his teammates targeted the decorated Welshman because he was viewed as a soft touch.

“In the week leading up to that game, you obviously pick out guys who are talismans, really important to Wales or the team your playing against. Guys you kind of want to focus on in terms of your game plan,” recalled Brown, who was speaking with Welsh centre and podcast regular Jamie Roberts, a fellow participant in the tussle that day.

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“Especially your defence. Guys you don’t want to give time and space to. And to send a message to the rest of their team, by hitting them hard and not giving them time and space. He was one of those guys, obviously being the captain.

“We had targeted him as a talisman. We wanted to get into his face. There were question marks maybe about his toughness, if that’s the right thing to say.

“Not from me. I think he’s a tough player,” noted Brown. “There were question marks whether he’d fold under pressure. A bit of physical intimidation. Nothing above the line and illegal.

“With the way I am as a player, that kind of sticks in your mind. It was a bit of scrap, a bit of push and shove.


“It didn’t start with me, this is the thing. I don’t know who started the little pushing and shoving. I saw him on the periphery of the scuffle and thought ‘I’m going to grab him here’.

“If they see the fullback grabbing your captain, a back row, it might have a little bit of an impact on them and [so they’d] see that we were up for the game. I for one was massively up for the game. I always am against Wales. It’s a massive rivalry. They are for us and vice versa for me.

“I got a hold of him and it’s a silly bit of pushing and shoving, then Doc [Jamie Roberts] comes in, throwing his weight around, making it worse.


“It’s just part of the game and you can laugh about it afterwards. And they had the last laugh, as they went on and won the game.”

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'There were question marks maybe about his toughness' - the unlikely Welsh player England targeted at the 2015 RWC