MIKE BROWN: My 12-week ban was a bitter pill to swallow

MIKE BROWN: My 12-week ban was a bitter pill to swallow after red card ended my 17 years at Harlequins… I’ve been hurt by abuse on social media but good people have stopped me slipping into a dark hole

  • My red card for a stamp on Tommy Taylor has been hard to deal with mentally 
  • There was no intent towards the Wasps man and I disagree with the 12-week ban 
  • It brought a sudden end to my 17 years with Harlequins and that hurts 
  • I was forced to delete my Twitter app after getting abuse on social media 
  • But now I’m looking ahead to a new challenge ahead of joining Newcastle 

It has been a tough couple of weeks after a red card brought a sudden end to my 17 years with Harlequins. Mentally, it’s been difficult to take. 

I’ve struggled and I’m still processing the fact that I will never play again for the club I’ve spent most of my life with. Fortunately, I’ve had good people around me to talk to, and stop me from slipping further into a dark hole.

It’s a bitter pill to swallow because what happened was not intentional and the disciplinary panel accepted that. I don’t think that was reflected in the high-end 12-week sanction. Tommy Taylor accepted my apology on the spot and there is absolutely no bad blood between us. I’m glad he was OK and was able to continue the game.

My 12-week ban has been hard to deal with mentally after it ended my 17 years at Harlequins 

The disciplinary panel acknowledged in their report that there was no intent, so I disagreed with their sanction while agreeing I needed to be more careful.

I’ve always tried to play the game in the right way: competitive, tough, physical and on the edge. I think I’ve been a good ambassador for our sport so to have this on my record doesn’t sit easily.

A lot of people have been piling into me on social media and they quickly forget that it’s one mistake in 17 years. I deleted the Twitter app from my phone. Look at the Marcus Rashford abuse in the week; it’s become a platform for people to have a pop at you and it needs more monitoring. What happened hurts enough, without people abusing you on top of that.

The disciplinary panel agree there was no intent for my stamp on Tommy Taylor but that wasn’t reflected in the lengthy sanction 

Every time I’ve had a setback in my career, I’ve channelled the disappointment on the pitch. Whether it’s being dropped for the World Cup after the bust-up with Ben Te’o, injuries or being told by Harlequins I wasn’t needed anymore, I’ve always used it as a motivation.

This will be no different. My next challenge is moving to Newcastle and earning my place in the team. I’m looking forward to working with the young lads there and helping them to achieve their goals with Newcastle and internationally. That’s my motivation.

It’s provided a chance for me to spend some time with my family and focus on a couple of non-rugby things. I’m starting a master’s in sporting directorship in September so I’ve been doing plenty of reading. 

I’ve been hurt by abuse on social media but luckily good people have given me support 

I’m interested in exploring other team environments and a couple of Premier League football teams, Norwich and Southampton, have been kind enough to invite me in to share ideas.

On the training front, I’ll continue to help Harlequins with practice as best I can, preparing them in the rugby sessions for the opponents they are about to face. The club have got a big few weeks coming up. 

As well as the Quins sessions, I’ll be working hard with (sprint coach) Margot Wells, using this as a mini pre-season to get a head start and be in the best possible shape for my Newcastle challenge.

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