England beat France: Shaunagh Brown says she couldn’t handle every game so close


In her fourth BBC Sport column, England supporter Shaunagh Brown talks about wowing fans with thrilling wins, supporting messages from the Olympians and how her family keeps her down to earth.

I don’t know if I could handle every match being as close as Saturday’s victory against France was, but it was an amazing sight to develop the sport.

England won with the last kick of the match at Twickenham and it was live on BBC Two so the whole team got so many messages afterwards.

Hooker’s nan Lark Davies texted her to tell her she must have taken her inhaler and that we hadn’t done her heart any good.

I have also heard of Olympic sprinter Asha Philip, who is now a super fan of rugby.

I used to compete for England in track and field – I did the hammer throw at the 2014 Commonwealth Games – so Asha and I grew up together. She was my roommate when we left for international competitions.

Asha watched her first rugby match when we beat France last week and now she’s watched two games in two weeks.

She called me after Saturday’s win because she wanted to talk about what happened, what she saw and what it means.

I asked if I should sign her up for 2021 World Cup tickets in New Zealand – or if she wanted to come and play.

She said she won’t be playing – but whether she will come to see the World Cup depends on whether the Olympics go ahead in July and August as planned.

The World Cup starts in September, and she has said that if the Olympics come before her, she will come.

Asha can’t believe how physical it is, that we can take these punches and then get up and go again.

She also doesn’t know why there is no more fighting. She said, “If someone did this to me, I should get up and punch them. I couldn’t take it! “

My family was not as excited as Asha. I have an older brother, Kyle, and a sister Stacey and they keep me down.

We just had this amazing comeback win live on BBC Two and all I got on my Whatsapp family group was my brother asking me what time I’m coming home so I could help put the ground in a hut we built in the garden.

He’s serious too. I said I couldn’t really move because I had just played a really physical game against France. I get a well done, but it’s a lot: “Good job, will you help with that now?” “

All kidding aside, it was great entertainment for viewers. This is how we are going to grow the crowd and get new people to watch rugby.

Athletes Dina Asher-Smith and Asha Philip both showed their support for England on Instagram

“We had to stay calm in the last incredible 10 minutes”

Having been substituted in the 60th minute, I was in the stands for the incredible last 10 minutes of the game.

Even though it was so exciting, it was actually quite calm. Poppy Cleall scored to reduce France’s lead to eight points, then Ellie Kildunne passed and there was only one point, so the job still wasn’t done.

The clock turned red but we knew the penalty was coming. We were hoping and waiting just because we knew he was in range for a shot at the posts.

When that penalty came, it was the greatest joy. It was as if we had won the game. We knew exactly what it meant.

We had to calm down because Emily Scarratt had yet to land the kick. Where we were in the stands, we were at a wrong angle so we couldn’t see if she had had it right away.

We had to look at the assistant referee and see if she was raising her flag to indicate that it was over.

They weren’t partying in the field either. But as soon as those flags were raised, that’s when the celebrations began.

‘We put all our cards on the table’

The huge turning point in the game was when the submarines arrived. We completely emptied our bench in the 60th minute.

I walked to a line, turned around and there were eight arriving at a time. I’ve never seen this before in a rugby match. All these shiny white shirts coming in, ready to tear it up.

It was putting all our cards on the table. If anyone got hurt, that would have been it and there was still 20 minutes to go.

But we had next to nothing to lose and we had a great bench, so why not dump it out and make a difference?

I thought to myself, “here is the cavalry” with a huge smile on my face. For the French, it would have had the opposite effect, looking at all the talent we brought.

“The plan is to win the World Cup”

It was our last tryout game of 2020 and it was a good year of building for us as a team. We didn’t lose a game and reached number one in the world rankings.

Our game day teams have changed a lot throughout the year. We still don’t have a fixed team as such, which in my opinion is a good thing.

From 2021, with the World Cup in September, you want to be able to exchange people seamlessly. You must have contingency plans.

I am optimistic about the World Cup. The draw took place on Thursday – we have France, South Africa and Fiji – but I don’t think that’s something to catch up on.

It doesn’t matter who we have in the pool, it shouldn’t change the way we prepare. The plan is to win the World Cup. Considering how this year has unfolded, I feel confident.

Shaunagh Brown was talking to Becky Gray of BBC Sport.


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