England international and Golden Boot winner Jack Brown has been involved in wheelchair rugby league in this country since its inception and is delighted to see how the sport continues to develop ahead of a home Rugby World Cup in November .
By Marc Bazeley
Last update: 08/15/22 8:30 p.m.
By his own admission, Jack Brown was never a great sportsman in his youth. It makes his rise to being recognized with the award for the world’s best wheelchair rugby league player all the more impressive.
Brown first took up wheelchair basketball and later the equivalent of rugby league as both offered the opportunity to share an activity on equal terms with his younger brother Harry, who lost both legs to meningitis as a baby.
Their sporting careers have since diverged, with his brother now a full-time member of Great Britain’s wheelchair basketball team, but those early years of terrorizing opposing teams rather than each other put them both on paths they never imagined were possible to descend. .
“We weren’t very big sports fans at all,” Jack said. sky sports. “We had played a little wheelchair basketball together, but I wouldn’t say we were fans of it either.
“We were very lucky to have the opportunity to play together and be part of something like this. That’s where our love for the activity and the sport grew.
“In high school I was the kid who found a hiding place for PE and didn’t get involved, but now it’s completely turned around and that’s what sports can do for everyone.
“We hated each other at home, so going to the basketball or rugby court was where we could connect without being in love.”
Highlights from England’s Wheelchair Rugby League win over France in Manchester in June
Brown, along with Martin Norris, is one of the players aiming to make it into this fall’s Wheelchair Rugby World Cup in England who were part of the national team when they debuted. Indeed, Brown starred in their first international comeback in 2005.
The Halifax native now resides in Australia where he is at the forefront of the development of the sport in the state of Queensland and in January 2020 he was recognized for his achievements on the pitch by being named the inaugural winner of the Wheelchair golden shoe.
The Covid-19 pandemic has stalled the sport’s development, but the return of international matches last year has helped wheelchair rugby league pick up where it left off and Brown is delighted to have been a part of it. of those formative years.
“It’s almost like you take the sport itself as your baby and it’s like watching a child grow,” Brown said.
In high school, I was the kid who found a hiding place for PE and didn’t get involved, but now that’s completely turned around and that’s what sports can do for everyone.
“It’s almost at this point now that you don’t need me to take care of you anymore, you’re all adults now and you’re teaching me things. As a sport in itself it has matured and become a adult.
“It’s an inclusive sport and anyone can play it, and it’s really taken to another level in Queensland.
“It’s really good for [Australia’s] development, which is good for the World Cup. It makes our job as England more difficult, but it’s really good.”
England’s recent training camp as part of preparations for this year’s World Cup, which begins at the Copper Box on November 3 with a double Group A match that sees England take on Australia and Ireland face Spain, marked the first time Brown had been able to reunite with the team since the start of the pandemic.
Although it has been more than two years since he last met his compatriots and missed June’s 62-48 win over World Cup holders France, Brown has settled in comfortably and relishes already the prospect of participating in a home tournament in which England will try to snatch the title from the defending champions.
“It’s been really good seeing everyone again,” Brown said. “When you come back into the environment, they’re a good group and not much has changed.
“The World Cup is going to be great. Being back at camp reminded me of what a great group we have here and all the characters we have.
“Being in this environment is like a drug. I really feed off the energy of these players.”