Harlequins’ stunning last-minute victory over Wasps at the weekend was overshadowed by a reckless moment from former England fullback Mike Brown.
The long serving Halequin of more than 15 years and a 72 cap international, was sent from the field in the 44th minute after a clear and direct stamp to the head of Wasps hooker Tommy Taylor.
Referee Wayne Barnes and TMO Stuart Terheege could find no mitigation for the action, determining that Brown was ‘conscious’ that the player was there. Brown was deemed to be in control of his actions, and Barnes was left with no choice but to show him red. Brown left the pitch with more than half an hour still left to play, leaving Harlequins in real trouble.
However, a spirited performance by the Twickenham-based team saw them remain in contention throughout, and in the dying stages mercurial fly half Marcus Smith bagged a well-worked try down the left hand side to snatch the victory away from Wasps.
Smith has been a standout performer for Harlequins this season, and with performances such as this, it is clear to see why some had him as an outside bet to make the 37-man Lions squad to South Africa this summer.
Scrum half Danny Care also found himself on the score sheet again and is currently second on the top try-scorers list for the 2020-21 season behind Sam Simmonds, who himself added another two tries to his tally against Worcester at the weekend.
For all the brilliance of Smith, Care and the ‘never say die’ attitude of their teammates, it is hard not to feel that the shine of the 48-46 victory has been rather tainted by the actions of Brown.
Whilst retaliation of any sort is never condoned, it is sometimes at least understandable in certain situations. Late hits, high shots and over-exuberant celebrations can often hit a nerve and spark an aggressive reaction.
However, in this instance, Tommy Taylor didn’t appear to do anything to merit Mike Brown’s subsequent action. What rugby fans saw this Sunday was an unprovoked, vicious assault by Brown – pure and simple, for which he should be (if he’s not already) completely ashamed!
Fans will be fully aware that Brown is prone to hot-headed moments, often finding himself in confrontations with opposition players, for seemingly no apparent reason. In this instance, Brown’s combative approach completely got the better of him.
By the look of it and justifiably so, Brown will be handed a hefty ban which could see his stamp being the final action for him in a Harlequins jersey. If so, what a sad way for the 35-year-old to end what has been an illustrious career with Harlequins, which includes both a Premiership and a Challenge Cup winners medal with the club that he has represented since 2005.
Brown’s new team for the 2021-22 season, Newcastle Falcons, may well be waiting a while before they see Brown running out in a shirt for them. Due to turn 36 in September, one has to wonder how much time Brown has left in the game, or more importantly, how much does the game need and/or want him after his most recent display.
How long do you think Mike Brown should be banned for? Do you think there was any justification for his actions? Will we see Mike Brown in action in the Gallagher Premiership again? Please comment below with your thoughts.