2015 the biggest year in English rugby

Date published: January 24 2015

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England full-back Mike Brown says the Red Rose are on a mission to make this a year to remember as they go in search of a Six Nations and Rugby World Cup double in 2015.

The 29-year-old, who was named Player of the Championship in the 2014 Six Nations tournament, believes at present the squad has more than enough firepower to win both competitions, the latter on home soil, despite producing a mixed bag in the autumn internationals.

The Harlequins stalwart, who has established himself as one of Stuart Lancaster’s most trusted players, will be joined in the squad by club teammate Nick Easter after a three-year absence while Sale Sharks fly-half Danny Cipriani has also earned a recall.

England’s bid to claim a first Six Nations crown since 2011 begins against Wales on February 6 at the Millennium Stadium, the scene of a devastating 30-3 loss in 2013 where the title slipped their grasp.

And having been involved in that game in the Welsh capital two years ago, Brown admits he is desperate to get his revenge.

“This is definitely the biggest year for English rugby and we’re desperate to kick it off by winning the Six Nations – we want to win every game and take home that crown,” said Brown, who was at Twickenham for the launch of a new partnership between BT and GB Wheelchair Rugby.

“It’s brilliant to be selected for the Six Nations, it’s something that I’ve been working really hard to do this season and, with this being such a big year for English rugby, I really wanted to be a part of it.

“It’s going to be a massive first game for us against Wales. Two years ago we came up short but we’re desperate to get past them this time around.

“They played really well in the autumn Internationals and put in a lot of good performances so it’s going to be a huge test for us.

“It’s great that Danny Cipriani is back in the squad. He’s worked really hard over the last few years at Sale and I know that he’s desperate to represent England again. He showed on the trip to New Zealand what he can do and he’ll bring something different to the team.

“This is a great year for English rugby, there’s no bigger tournament than the World Cup and to have that in our country is brilliant for us English players and we’re all desperate to be involved.

“Having it on home turf definitely adds something a bit extra to the tournament for us and hopefully we’ll be able to come away with the World Cup, but our main focus for now is Wales in two weeks.”

Brown was joined at Twickenham by GB Wheelchair Rugby stars Mike Kerr, Chris Ryan and Coral Batey, who also have glory on their mind this year with the BT Rugby World Wheelchair Championships taking place in October.

The event, part of a three-year partnership between BT and GB Wheelchair Rugby, takes place at the Copperbox at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in the middle of Rugby World Cup 2015.

Britain, who are ranked number one in Europe, will compete against seven of the world’s best nations and Brown believes the new partnership will see the sport flourish.

“It’s massively exciting and hopefully will get more people interested in taking part,” added Brown, an ambassador for GB Wheelchair Rugby.

“It’s an exciting sport, there’s lots of drama just like the able-bodied game, it’s just as physical and fast-paced and I think people will enjoy it.

“These guys are so driven to succeed, they represent their sport at the highest level for Great Britain and are so determined to do well.

“These are very skilful players and they’re very fit because it’s hard work in the chair. It’s a real skill to be able to manoeuvre a chair as well as avoid the opposition and catch a ball – it’s definitely a tough sport.”

To find out more about the BT GB Wheelchair Rugby partnership and the BT World Wheelchair Rugby Challenge visit gbwr.org.uk

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