‘I won’t be wearing tights!’: Players can now don leggings on plastic pitches… but Mike Brown says he will not be taking advantage of the rule change
- Men were previously not permitted to wear leggings or tights during matches
- World Rugby has altered its laws following a rise in abrasions on artificial pitches
- The change comes as teams prepare to enter their autumn and winter schedule
- However, Mike Brown says he will not be taking advantage of the rule change
Mike Brown is learning the art of diplomacy, but he remains a straight-talker at heart. That much was apparent when the veteran full back was asked about a law change announced by World Rugby earlier this week.
The global governing body have given male players the same right as their female counterparts to wear protective tights or leggings during matches, to guard against burns on artificial pitches.
Brown is set to make his home debut for Newcastle against Bristol on the synthetic surface at Kingston Park on Saturday, but he was adamant that his legs will be bare below his shorts. ‘I will not be wearing leggings — absolutely not,’ he said, emphatically.
Mike Brown (right) says he will not be wearing tights or leggings out on the pitch
But what about his Falcons team-mates? ‘Can you imagine the northern guys here wearing leggings?’ he said, incredulous. ‘It has not even been spoken about. You can’t be wearing leggings — surely not. Maybe I’m old-school but I won’t be wearing them and I don’t imagine many of the lads here doing that. Maybe Radders (Adam Radwan) will wear some!’
Since his summer move to Tyneside from Harlequins, Brown has made just one appearance for his new club; last weekend against Saracens. It was a try-scoring debut, which also happened to be on an artificial pitch in Barnet.
The straight-talking streak was evident again as Brown considered the prospect of a first outing at Kingston Park for his new club. Turning to the Newcastle media officer, he asked: ‘Do I have to say I like the surface?! If I am honest I don’t really like the surface, but it is what it is.
Men were not permitted to wear leggings during matches. But, World Rugby altered its laws
The change in the law came following a rise in burns and abrasions on artificial pitches
‘Clubs have it for certain reasons including maintenance of the pitch and the community side, which I understand. You have to adapt and the good thing here is that we train on the pitch all week. Being the age I am and after the knee surgery that I had a couple of years ago, if I try to change surfaces that will be a problem. But being here all week, I am fine.’
Brown and his family have settled well in the North East. He is enjoying lighter traffic than he was used to in London and Surrey, as well as proximity to the coast and countryside. He has also been enthralled by the local feel-good factor caused by the recent takeover of Newcastle United.
‘It was crazy the day it happened — all the supporters outside the stadium,’ he said. ‘It was absolutely going off in town. Luther Burrell and Ollie Lindsay-Hague live quite near the stadium, so they were posting all sorts about it and it looked incredible. That’s how much they love their football up here. They’re very passionate.
‘Hopefully, I can get to a game soon because I’ve heard the atmosphere at the ground is absolutely unbelievable and I’m sure it will be even more so now.’
Brown has been reunited with Dean Richards at Newcastle — the imposing, iconic figure who was director of rugby when he broke into the senior side at Harlequins.
Brown has been reunited with Dean Richards (above) at Newcastle — the imposing, iconic figure who was director of rugby when he broke into the senior side at Harlequins
Brown is also relishing the chance to act as a team-mate and mentor to Radwan (middle), the turbo-charged Falcons wing who scored a hat-trick on his England debut
Brown was asked what it was like to work for the former England No 8 again and he quipped: ‘I never see him, he is always out fishing! He’s probably softened a bit since I was a 20-year-old academy kid and used to dive out of corridors to get out of his way. The job he is doing here is incredible. It is great to be back with him.’
Brown is relishing the chance to act as a team-mate and mentor to Radwan, the turbo-charged Falcons wing who scored a hat-trick on his England debut during the summer. He describes the 23-year-old as ‘an interesting character’ but added: ‘He’s one hell of an athlete; a special talent. If he keeps working hard at his game, I can see him being a superstar.’
At the age of 36, Brown is still working at his own game — as well as his diplomacy skills. He has realised that straight-talking isn’t always the most effective means of dealing with younger colleagues.
‘Sometimes you have to be direct but there are times when you have to guide people through and work out solutions,’ he said. ‘There’s a nurturing side that some of these young lads need nowadays! Is it millennials they call them? They need an arm around the shoulder.
‘Gone are the days when you could just be direct and tell people what to do. That’s something I am working on in my older age!’