The 2014 Guinness Six Nations showcased England’s Mike Brown at his most electric and effective as he took home the Player of the Championship accolade.
It proved to be a Championship of redemption for the live-wire full-back. For many years the Harlequin had faced fierce competition for the No.15 jersey from Ben Foden then Alex Goode.
But the Englishman demonstrated that he was more than capable of producing excellence in the position.
Brown’s eye-catching performances helped England seal the Triple Crown but they were pipped to the Guinness Six Nations title on points difference by Ireland.
A determined counter-attacker
A mainstay during Stuart Lancaster’s helm as England head coach, Brown topped the try-scoring ranks for the Championship with four – tied with Ireland’s Johnny Sexton.
In England’s opening game of the Championship against France, Brown did not waste time in getting his try tally under way after crossing for the Red Roses’ first try. It was also his first in an England shirt and while Gaël Fickou’s late exploits stole the headlines, it was a sign of things to come.
The following week at BT Murrayfield, England historically nilled their Auld Enemy by defeating Scotland 20-0. Brown was amongst the tries once more, getting on the receiving end of Jack Nowell’s good work. He was given the first of three Player of the Match awards for his work in Edinburgh.
And when he wasn’t scoring them, he was providing the highlights. In their Round 3 encounter against Ireland, Brown broke through the defensive line and gave his friend and clubmate Danny Care an easy run-in to the line to Twickenham’s delight.
Despite not crossing over on this occasion, he was named Player of the Match for a second time.
He completed his fine Championship with a pair of tries against Italy on the last day, rubber-stamping his excellent campaign. For his display, Brown was awarded his third Player of the Match accolade.
To summarise his efforts, he had 65 carries and beat 25 defenders, while conceding no penalties and gaining more than 540 metres. It was a flawless seven weeks for the Southampton-born back.
In a curious twist of fate, it was the first time a team had won the Triple Crown while another of the Home Nations won the Championship outright.
Player of the Championship – Classic Winners: Leigh Halfpenny 2013
Edging a legend
With numerous standout performers during the Championship, Brown edged out the competition’s top-scorer in Sexton and retiring legend Brian O’Driscoll. The England man won 34% of the public vote to earn the gong.
Ireland backs duo Rob Kearney and Andrew Trimble, Scotland’s David Denton and scrum-half Care completed the seven-strong shortlist.
Brown continued to be a key member of the England set-up through to the World Cup and beyond.
In 2016, he played a part in England’s first Grand Slam win in more than a dozen years before featuring in their historic 3-0 whitewash tour of Australia under Eddie Jones.