SIDELINE CHAT

Rugby player with the Bish, Galwegians and Connacht, Browne is a home-town boy who became a legend in the club. After making his senior debut aged 19, he played more than 150 games for Connacht and was a central player in Connacht’s PRO12 title success.

At what age did you start playing? I originally started playing when I was 10-years-old with Galwegians, however, I didn’t stick with it. I returned to playing in my final year of school in the Bish and didn’t look back from there.

Do you remember your first game? No, unfortunately I don’t. Probably a classic on the top pitch in Wegians.

What is your ideal position and why? I played more games in second row during my career, but I always loved playing at blindside flanker. I liked the extra freedom, not being stuck in the scrum gave me, while I could still perform an effective line-out role. Also, I didn’t need to be as heavy, which was a bonus.

Who inspired you when growing up/ and now? The same answer for both…my older brother Damien. He was a professional rugby player also, so I followed his role. Now, he’s currently pursuing life as an adventurer. Seeing what he puts his body and mind through to achieve his goals is remarkable. I will not be following his role on the latter!

Did you also aspire to play at the top level? When I returned to playing rugby at the age of sixteen, I soon set my sights on playing professionally. It was a privilege to play professional rugby for so long. Unfortunately, I didn’t achieve an Irish cap, but I look back with pride on my career.

What do you particularly like about your sport? The camaraderie and the friendships you make first and foremost. From a playing perspective, I loved the feeling after a match sitting in the dressing room.

Greatest influence/role model? Apart from my brother, I loved watching Jonah Lomu growing up. He really ignited an interest in rugby. I had a video (Yes, a VHS ) on him that I used to watch over and over.

Biggest challenge? Rugby is a tough sport, with injuries an inevitable part of it. The injuries, with all the emotional and physical elements, were the biggest challenge.

Greatest success/achievement? Easy…winning the PRO12 in 2016. Nothing else comes close.

Favourite memory? The PRO12 and the days that followed. In particular, the open top bus through town. Very, very privileged to have experienced that.

Biggest regret, if any? Plenty of things I could have done better throughout my career. Not getting an Irish cap is a disappointment.

Fiercest opponent/s? Some of the best I’ve encountered (not exhaustive ): Xavier Rush (early in my career ), Leone Nakarwara, Hamish Watson

Strengths/weaknesses? Too numerous on both counts to mention

If not playing your sport, what sport would you want to play? Golf. You don’t get beaten up for a living and you can earn a lot more.

Are you still involved in the sport? Yes, I’m the head coach of the senior men's team in Galwegians and forwards coach for the Connacht U19s

What do you do to relax? I’ve a seven-month-old daughter and I find going for walks with her extremely relaxing.

Favourite sports person? The aforementioned Jonah Lomu. Outside of rugby, I’m a big fan of Steve Redgrave and what he achieved.

Best/worst aspect of lockdown. Best: The opportunity to concentrate on what’s really important to me. Worst: Where to begin - not being able to see family and friends, not being able to travel/eat out/go for a drink, and the constant bad news.

 

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