Brown put his life on the line for rugby
TELL a passionate Kiwi that he can't do something and he will do everything in his power to prove that person wrong.Just ask Ipswich Rugby Club head coach Aaron Brown - he has quite a tale to tell.
TELL a passionate Kiwi that he can't do something and he will do everything in his power to prove that person wrong.
Just ask Ipswich Rugby Club head coach Aaron Brown - he has quite a tale to tell.
Despite being told by three separate medical specialists to stop playing, the New Zealander defied the medics as a youngster to put both his body and life on the line.
Brown was playing for Gold Coast Breakers in Australia when he was sent to hospital with a suspected broken and dislocated collarbone sustained during a match.
However, that turned out to be the least of his problems.
An X-ray to ascertain the damage to his collarbone revealed irregularities in his spinal column and, upon further inspection by an expert, he found out he had snapped off two nodes either side of his vertebrae.
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“I was a dead man walking,” admitted Brown.
One big hit from a forward on the pitch or even a shunt from behind while driving could have killed Brown.
Most men would hang up their boots immediately… but not Brown.
“No. I had to keep playing. This was my livelihood, my job, the game I love - I couldn't come to terms with giving all that up.
“I just thought that I could keep going. I had played for a while with this injury and it had been ok so I thought I could just carry on.”
Brown's luck would eventually run out however.
“I took a heavy hit from both sides of me during a game and ended up in hospital for 13 weeks. I was partially paralysed, which was pretty scary at the time.”
So does he regret playing despite knowing the extent of the risk he was taking?
“It's never silly playing rugby,” insisted Brown. “It's never silly doing something that you love.
“I knew what the consequences were and I was prepared to take that risk at the time. It was a major part of my life and I wasn't prepared to give it up.”
Ninety-eight sessions of physiotherapy and acupuncture later and Brown had to admit defeat.
“It was horrible but what can you do. Everyone was telling me the same - I could never play again.”
Brown's playing career was over and he struggled to come to terms with this reality.
“I spent almost a year out of the game as I found it difficult to come to terms the injury. I couldn't even watch the All Blacks on the television - it was too hard.
“It was my dad who actually brought me round and got me back on the right track. He said that it was about time that I gave something back to the game after all it had given me.”
Brown took the coaching path to rekindle his love of rugby, coaching the Griffith University College Knights in Australia for three years before coming to England.
After a brief spell at Clevedon Rugby Club, Brown decided to link up with some friends he had made in Suffolk during a scholarship he had with St Jospeph's College as a 17-year-old.
He spent the next three years with Hadleigh before eventually moving on to his current role with Ipswich.
Life in London Two North East has been difficult for the club this season but Brown insists the club is on a sound footing to make progress both at youth and senior level.
“This club has got a good structure. It has got a good senior section with good facilities.
“I was brought in to concentrate on senior development and it's still a work in progress.
“But we also want to improve the club from the minis up. I coach the coaches on how to train the minis and if you can get that in place then it bodes well for the future.”
Brown's ultimate goal is to bring players through the youth ranks into the senior side but said he would not stand in their way if a better opportunity came up.
“Everybody wants promotion here, including me but it's also about player development.
“If we can manage to get three players out of our under-19s to the senior side then we've done well.
“We have got players here that have come through the system and that obviously gives us a great deal of satisfaction.
“But a player with a lot of potential is not going to achieve all that he wants here and we respect that. We encourage our players to make the best of what they have and we are not going to take a better opportunity away from them.”
Just as no-one was ever going to take rugby away from Brown.