‘It’s been five years in the making’ – Brown savours England’s World Cup win


Marc Bazeley

@MarcBazeley

England wheelchair star Jack Brown on England’s World Cup triumph, his new role in the team and what comes next for the sport; the hosts beat France 28-24 in the final to claim the title for the first time since 2008

Last Updated: 21/11/22 6:27pm

Jack Brown celebrates after England's win over France in the wheelchair World Cup final Jack Brown celebrates after England's win over France in the wheelchair World Cup final

Jack Brown celebrates after England’s win over France in the wheelchair World Cup final

When England’s players returned to the changing rooms in the aftermath of their Wheelchair Rugby League World Cup final triumph over France, they found a pleasant surprise waiting for them.

It was their long-lost cuddly monkey toy mascot Kong, last seen at the 2013 tournament after going missing as part of a prank but now reunited with the squad after being left hanging on the door at Manchester Central.

Jack Brown, member of that squad nine years ago, was particularly delighted to see Kong again, wearing him around his neck instead of his winners’ medal post-match – even though another of the England mascots had since disappeared.

“Kong was with us in 2013 and there’s a behind-the-scenes game which happens where all of the teams steal each other’s mascots,” Brown, a World Cup winner in 2008 as well, said.

“Unfortunately, we lost Kong in 2013 and some anonymous person left him hanging on the door to our changing room when we got back. Whoever they are, we thank them, and we love them – and we’re very happy to have him back.

“But we have lost Mufasa, who is our lion mascot, so I might be having a word with a couple of the Aussie boys about that one when I get back to Australia.”

One of England’s most experienced wheelchair players, stretching back to their first international in 2005, Brown played a hugely influential role in the 28-24 win over France to bring the World Cup back to these shores for the first time in 14 years, including scoring two tries.

After winning the Wheelchair Rugby League World Cup, England's Tom Halliwell and Seb Bechara reflected on the result and atmosphere at the game against France.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

After winning the Wheelchair Rugby League World Cup, England’s Tom Halliwell and Seb Bechara reflected on the result and atmosphere at the game against France.

After winning the Wheelchair Rugby League World Cup, England’s Tom Halliwell and Seb Bechara reflected on the result and atmosphere at the game against France.

The 2019 Golden Boot winner, these days based in Queensland, has adapted to a new role during the recently concluded tournament though, featuring off the interchange bench rather than starting. It is a move he is in no doubt has proven beneficial for both him and the team.

“I had to play the full 80 minutes in the last World Cup, and it showed in the last 20 minutes when composure dropped a little bit and we were hammering the same spot for about three minutes, I didn’t have a clue what the score was and I was completely out of my depth,” Brown said.

“Being able to accept I get tired sometimes – and the thing is we’ve got depth in this team. The league over here is incredible and I’ve been watching it all from Australia, and it means I don’t have to do as much which is nice for me.

“It’s been five years in the making and I don’t think we ever doubted ourselves, but the last three weeks around this team we were saying we had a thread and sometimes it will fray, and we have to band together to make sure it doesn’t snap. It felt like in that final we had a go.”

Jack Brown scored two tries for England against France in the World Cup final Jack Brown scored two tries for England against France in the World Cup final

Jack Brown scored two tries for England against France in the World Cup final

Victory for the host nation over their old rivals and reigning champions France in a tightly fought final brought a fitting end to the World Cup, which has succeeded in elevating wheelchair rugby league to previously unheard-of heights.

As well as delivering a long-awaited second triumph for England, the tournament introduced a new audience to the sport, saw the USA make their debut, and has led to semi-finalists Wales being set to embark on a ground-breaking tour of Brazil in February.

Being given the same prominence as the men’s and women’s tournaments, which included England’s victorious players joining the triumphant Australia teams to celebrate at Old Trafford on Saturday evening, has played a big part in raising the wheelchair game’s profile.

Brown is delighted so many more people have now come to engage with the sport which allows disabled and non-disabled male and female players of all ages to compete on an even playing field, channelling the words of wisdom of one of his team-mates.

England wheelchair captain Tom Halliwell with Australian counterparts James Tedesco and Kezie Apps at Old Trafford England wheelchair captain Tom Halliwell with Australian counterparts James Tedesco and Kezie Apps at Old Trafford

England wheelchair captain Tom Halliwell with Australian counterparts James Tedesco and Kezie Apps at Old Trafford

“James Simpson says it perfectly: You have the men’s game, and you have the women’s game, and wheelchair rugby league is the cherry on top,” Brown said.

“It’s everything compiled into one. It’s come over here and no matter what happens, you play rugby league – and that has been the stand-out game for wheelchair rugby league for years.

“We’ve been singing it for so long, and we’re really glad [World Cup chief executive] Jon Dutton and his team have managed to put this on, do it justice and show to the world what we’ve been saying for so many years.

“I think we’re going to have fans of this who don’t know what rugby league is.”

Sky Sports is the home of all three Super League Grand Finals in 2023. The Men’s Grand Final, the Women’s Grand Final and the Wheelchair Grand Final will all be live on Sky Sports next season. The new Super League season starts on Thursday February 16.

Source


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *