Greatest XV Profile: Kelly Brown

Scotland’s Kelly Brown  2/2/2013
One third of Scotland’s ‘Killer Bees’ in the back-row alongside John Barclay and Johnnie Beattie, Kelly Brown was a key part of his country’s pack during the course of his nine-year international career.

One third of Scotland’s ‘Killer Bees’ in the back-row alongside John Barclay and Johnnie Beattie, Kelly Brown was a key part of his country’s pack during the course of his nine-year international career.

He captained Scotland on 14 occasions and earned 31 of his 64 Test caps in the Six Nations, providing standout performances in what was at times an unpredictable side.

Brown also enjoyed a glittering domestic career on both sides of the border, shining for Glasgow Warriors and Saracens, and has moved into coaching following his decision to hang up his boots in 2017.

To celebrate the Six Nations’ 20th anniversary, you can create your Greatest XV on the Guinness Six Nations app and choose from more than 150 players, including Kelly Brown.


The Edinburgh-born flanker was on the path to international rugby throughout his teenage years, representing Scotland at every age-group from Under-16s onwards.

Brown attended Earlston High School – which also counts former Scotland hooker Stevie Scott and ex-Scotland and Team GB Sevens star Mark Robertson among its rugby alumni – and captained the Scottish Schools side against Spain in 2000.

Having also added Scotland Sevens honours to an ever-improving CV, Brown made his senior international bow against Romania in 2005 and scored Scotland’s sixth and final try in their 39-19 win in Bucharest.


Brown had to be patient to become a regular on the international stage and his Championship debut came in the first round of the 2007 Six Nations as Scotland travelled to Twickenham to battle for the Calcutta Cup.

England ran out 42-20 victors but Brown kept his place for the following week’s visit of Wales and ended on the winning side in the Championship for the first time, Chris Paterson kicking all of Scotland’s points in a 21-9 win over Wales at Murrayfield.

Brown made four appearances in the 2007 Championship and was part of the Scotland squad which made the World Cup quarter-finals later that year, dotting down against Portugal in the pool stage.

The summer of 2007 also saw Brown forced into a change of scene at club level as Border Reivers, for whom the back-rower had begun his professional career, were disbanded.

The flanker was one of several Borders stars to move to Glasgow Warriors and he would go on to make 82 appearances for the Scotstoun outfit.


Having been on the wrong side of the Calcutta Cup result on his Six Nations bow, Brown came off the bench to help Scotland earn revenge the following year.

Paterson’s boot again proved pivotal as the hosts won 15-9 at a windswept Murrayfield but, as in 2007, Scotland earned just one win in a tricky campaign.

It was a similar tale in 2009, a campaign which saw Brown make four appearances off the bench, with a win over Italy ensuring Scotland at least avoided the wooden spoon.

The 2010 Championship was Brown’s first as an ever-present starter and he played the full 80 minutes in a famous 23-20 Round 5 triumph in Dublin, secured by a last-minute Dan Parks penalty.

The opening fixture of the following year’s Championship saw Brown go over for his first Six Nations try, one of three Scotland scored in the Stade de France, but it wasn’t enough to prevent France coming out on top.

Brown put in high-quality performances across the 2011 Championship and was described by the Scottish Rugby website as “arguably Scotland’s most consistent forward” despite some tough results for his side, whose sole victory came against Italy.


Brown was appointed Scotland captain in 2012 but injury ruled him out of that year’s Championship – which turned into one to forget for Andy Robinson’s side, who were beaten in every match.

The flanker led his country out for the first time against New Zealand on the day of his 50th cap and his first Six Nations campaign as skipper in 2013 saw an improvement in Scotland’s performances; victories over Italy and Ireland were their first back-to-back wins in the Championship for 12 years.

Those results helped Scotland finish third, a much-needed lift following their wooden spoon the previous year and their highest finish since 2006.

It proved to be the high point of Brown’s captaincy as the following year’s Championship was hit and miss.

Brown started the tournament as skipper but was dropped by interim coach Scott Johnson following the opening round defeat against Ireland.

He was then recalled as captain for the final two matches but Scotland were beaten in both to slip to fifth in the table, with a 51-3 defeat in Cardiff turning out to be Brown’s final Six Nations appearance.

Though he was overlooked on the international stage from 2014, Brown continued to enjoy plenty of domestic success with Saracens – who he had joined from Glasgow in 2010.

The Scot made 103 Premiership appearances for the London outfit, helping them win their first title in 2010/11 and remaining a valued part of the squad which won back-to-back crowns in 2014/15 and 2015/16.

Brown coached Saracens’ academy upon retiring in 2017 and this summer returned to Glasgow Warriors to become a senior team coach.