When she imagined winning the Women’s Six Nations this year, Shaunagh Brown probably didn’t picture herself sat in front of the television screen.
In fact, the England prop was completely oblivious to the fact that the Red Roses had been crowned champions for a second successive year, as she was too busy playing computer games to notice!
It wasn’t until later in the day that Brown realised that Rachel Shankland’s late try that secured a 13-13 draw for Scotland against France, meant England held an unassailable lead at the top of the table.
“I was sitting at home playing Super Mario on the computer and most of my WhatsApp groups were on silent so my phone didn’t go off at first,” the Harlequins star said in her BBC column this week.
“Somebody messaged me saying ‘congratulations’ and I didn’t know what it was about. I looked at the squad WhatsApp group to see what was going on.
“One of the staff members had said congratulations too and I was still completely oblivious to it all, then I worked out that we had won the title!
“It was a complete anti-climax. I carried on playing on the computer. I told my mum and she just said ‘oh that’s good, isn’t it?’”
The Championship win is just reward for the dominance of Simon Middleton’s side throughout the 2020 Women’s Six Nations to date, with the chance of back-to-back Grand Slams in their grasp as they face Italy this weekend.
And Brown, who has been on fine form for club side Harlequins in the opening rounds of the Allianz Premier 15s, believes that is down to the preparation that Middleton gives the side.
👏 Our very own @ShaunaghBrown has been nominated for the Sunday Times Sportswomen New Influencer award.
Get voting! 👇#COYQ
— Harlequins Women 🃏 (@HarlequinsWomen) October 18, 2020
With differing rules for domestic and international rugby in the current climate, players have to adapt week on week, but the 30-year-old is ready for the change in gameplay at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi on Sunday.
“Playing for Harlequins in Premier 15s at the moment, the laws are different so that there are fewer scrums,” added Brown.
“There is a lot of running rugby and we are playing 35-minute halves. It suits my style. It means I’m not tired from scrummaging.
“When we’re at England training we still scrummage and play. It is a stark reminder that we are playing Italy under normal, international rules on Sunday and it is going to be a lot of hard work.
“It has been so tough. We have been looking at the data and they are making us work a lot harder in England training than we would in a match for our Premier 15s clubs.”
Brown has also been a constant presence on social media in the past month, with her daily posts about Black History Month looking to educate the masses.
It’s a topic that the England star has regularly spoken about, so much so that the Sunday Times recently nominated her for their Sportswoman Influencer award this year.
The nomination is testament to someone who has become a role model for so many aspiring young people, whether they be rugby players or not.
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🖤We kneel because we recognise we need change 🖤We kneel for respect 🖤We kneel to show support 🖤We kneel not for politics but for peaceful protest 🖤 We kneel because small black boys and girls still ask if they will be white when they grow up The bigger the momentum, the bigger the movement, the more likely change will come. Sometimes it starts from within. From within our own thoughts and own biases. Realising how people are perceived in public because of the colour of skin. The train is leaving the station, if you don’t want to be a part of the change then please alight here. And live in your world and your bubble. We are moving on #Change #Respect #Peaceful #Momentum #Movement #Rugby #BlackLivesStillMatter #Freedom
“These people are out there – it is just about looking for them and encouraging people to want to look for them,” Brown said.
“What it has shown is that people haven’t been taught this information in schools or in adulthood. So now it is on us to learn.
“On Monday I did one about Isaac Johnson, who patented a folding bicycle. A lot of people know about folding bicycles, but they don’t know it was a black man who patented it.
“I don’t know all that stuff – I’ve been researching it, the same way anyone could. I’m just doing my bit to make it more easily accessible.
“As much stress as it has been, it has 100% been worth it and I will definitely be doing it again next year and each October indefinitely. But I am looking forward to 1st November!”