Clarbie Road's Greg is with England for the Six Nations Championship

Greg BrownGreg Brown used to play football for Clarbeston Road but is now totally immersed in rugby union because he has a very specific and challenging role in his work – AS LOGISTICS MANAGER OF THE ENGLAND MEN’S RUGBY TEAM!
Amazingly in this role, Greg was totally involved in the recent World Cup held in France – and since each person who has been attached to the squad receives recognition, he is now the proud recipient of a bronze medal as reward for making sure that every aspect of the squad’s needs was met, from the huge amounts of kit needed and other requirements like even providing a complete gymnasium if the hotel or facilities aren’t deemed good enough!
To that end, Greg and his helpers used an articulated lorry, two 18-ton trucks and one 12-ton truck to provide everything that might be needed for the competition, from June to October!

Set out on a new course of action

Yet it is fair to say that Greg’s participation didn’t come about as part of a carefully-worked out career plan because he set out as a performance analyst – and even that specialist field might not have been his initial choice when he started out his degree course at Cardiff Metropolitan University he studying for an honours’ degree in Sport and P.E.
“But one of the course components was performance analysis,” explained Greg, “and I found the lectures so interesting that I decided I would continue my studies and graduated with a Master’s Degree in that area.
“That course provided me with a natural link to the Welsh Rugby Union, providing statistics from the Premiership and college youth matches – and from there my work progressed to with another Pembrokian in Rowland Phillips when he was coach of the Welsh Women’s squad.

Greg Brown with Medal


First World Cup experience – with the Welsh Ladies’ team

“During my time there I went to the 2017 World Cup with them in Ireland and it was pretty full on because my role included providing some filming to give a different perspective of play alongside the usual statistics that we supplied for coaches during play – and more detailed versions for the following days of training, as well as opposition analysis of upcoming opponents that included a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats).
“I really enjoyed the role and learned a lot before I decided I needed a break in 2018 and so took six months off to go travelling to countries as diverse as New Zealand and Fiji, plus Central American countries like Costa Rica and Guatemala.”

A fresh start – with the English Rugby Union

With batteries recharged Greg arrived back in the UK and was offered a role with English Rugby Union, working from home because of Covid and helping the RFU with data from the top clubs like Saracens, Sale Sharks, Bath, Harlequins, Northampton and the rest so that they could have information, not only on top players but those beginning to catch the eye with a view for possible inclusion in the range of English squads.
“Covid had caused an inevitable contraction in rugby played but from the start of the 2022 campaign my role increased to other areas like checking safety measures as I filmed changing rooms, dining areas and any other community rooms during the 2022 Six Nations to make sure they met safety requirements, working with my team manager Charlotte – and eventually having my role increased to filming training sessions.

The English Roses call – and Greg answers

“This led to my being recommended for a vacancy with the Red Roses, England Women’s squad for the 2022 Women’s World Cup in New Zealand – but in a new role where my time was split between supplying analysis and being the unofficial kit manager, which had me driving a van around! It was certainly different,” admitted Greg, “but I really got to know the players well at the pre-tournament training camps at Bath University and Pennyhill”
“The actual competition was amazing and the team did well to move out of the qualifying groups and into the actual play-offs and eventually into the final against hosts and favourites New Zealand – and we made sure they had everything they needed – although there was a nice touch because we didn’t put their kit in the changing room because they were all presented to them in a ceremony the evening before.”
Sadly, there was to be no fairytale ending because the New Zealanders battled through to victory – but Greg says he will never forget those memorable times!

Logistics manager needed for the England men – and Greg was on a huge new venture

When he returned to this country, he received another phone call from Charlotte saying that there was a vacancy for the Logistics Manager of the England Men’s team because the previous occupant had found another role with the European Golf Union and he had been recommended for what was the biggest challenge of his life – and he was delighted to accept.
“It was very much a case of being thrown into the deep end because my first game was England versus South Africa and ironically was the last game where Eddie Jones was coach – and Steve Borthwick was brought in.
“By then I had discovered the huge volume and range of equipment needed, not only with regard to playing and training kit but training equipment, strength and conditioning materials, and even a gymnasium on occasions!
“For example, when we went out to Verona (Italy) for pre-season training prior to jetting out for the World Cup it was considered that there wasn’t enough weight-training equipment out there and I had to sort out a lorry-load in double-quick time which we could ferry around!”.

Greg and family at a match


Off to the World Cup in France after a bit of a hiccup!

Then it was off to the World Cup and this meant a period out there from June to October in camp or playing so there was a huge number of items needed on a regular basis that sometimes was needed almost the previous day rather than tomorrow so that at one time we had those four huge lorries already mentioned, in regular use.
“As support staff we stayed in the same hotels as the players so got to know them well as they teased me about being Welsh – but I countered this by telling them that both performance analysts, the physio and doctor were also Welsh – and there was even one Scot involved!
Inevitably there have been some ‘interesting’ moments, not least when the English squad were preparing for the World Cup and before they left there was the usual photo call for the squad, coaches and officials at Twickenham.
Greg and co were safely ensconced in bed at the Lensbury Hotel, not too far from Twickers, on the eve of the presentation, when a nagging worry crept into his head about whether the team kit was safe in the van he had to convoy it to the event.
And so in the end, despite the late hour, he had to go down and check it was safe and when he opened the back doors he found to his horror that they hadn’t packed it before leaving the Pennyhill complex!
“I quickly contacted Jamie, my kit man, and he got dressed so that we could drive back there pronto - and luckily I had the keys with me and we soon had everything safely in the back of the van.”
“Then we drove back to the hotel and the next day we were nicely early for the photo call - and to this day no-one knows what happened as they all looked resplendent in their new kit!”

A spectacle to remember and a medal to treasure!

“The World Cup was again a fantastic spectacle which the French organised brilliantly and we were in the changing rooms every match day, putting out the playing kits and everything else that was needed – and collecting it all back up when games were over. There was huge excitement when England beat Fiji 31-24 in the quarter-final but agony in the semi-final, when they thought they might edge home against South Africa in a titanic clash but lost 16-15 – and I have never seen so many desperately disappointed players in my life.”
“It meant that we had to play Argentina in the play off for the bronze medal at Stade de France, Saint Denis and it was another nerve-wracking match before we won 26-23 and I will always remember my part in the whole event, from start to finish – and my bronze medal, which I will always treasure!

Greg works closely with the new England head coach, Steve Borthwick and says he is very much a ‘what you see is what you get’ person who doesn’t suffer fools gladly so we are kept on our toes but I quite like that and what is nice is that I have been able to get to know him and most of the squad’s players.

Greg with the rest of the England squad


Family support when he set out in sport

All of this now seems a long way away from his sporting start when he played football as a nipper for Clarbeston Road, where his father, Steve Brown, has been totally committed throughout the club’s development and has been chairman now for a number of years.
When Greg began playing, he also had great support from his mother Elaine, who played hockey in her younger days and is now a participating member of Neyland Rowing Club.
His partner Phoebe played netball before they got together and Greg jokingly says she has to be the most supportive supporter since he is also away from their Dinas Powys home for long periods!
His dad Steve actually coached Greg when he was part of a very strong Clarbie junior side which won coveted treble for their age group of Pembrokeshire League and cup (at the Ogi Bridge Meadow Stadium) alongside the West Wales Cup at Stebonheath, Llanelli, playing alongside players of the calibre of Rhys Dalling, Steffan Williams, Sean Seymour-Davies and Osian Wyn.
Then it was on to senior football where he still played centre half or midfield, with support from dad and another Clarbie stalwart in Huw Bevan.

“Others in that team included the long-serving Dan Rees, Matthew Ellis, Matthew Fox, Richard Bevan, Charlie George and Sean Seymour-Davies - but then college came and I somehow managed the change of my sporting emphasis.”

A new challenge on the horizon

And that takes us nicely back to Greg’s current role where, at 31 years of age, he is already looking forward to the forthcoming Six Nations Championship with the English Men’s squad, which starts very soon now.
“We have already set up the training base at Pennyhill and are going to a warm-weather camp in Barcelona on January 23rd under head coach Steve Borthwick.
“In the Six Nations we will again be setting up everything the players need pre-match in the changing rooms, plus their warm-up equipment and a host of other seemingly minor details that might seem unimportant individually but all add up to ensure a smooth start as we meet Italy in our first match and have ‘The Big One’ as we entertain Wales at Twickenham in our second match.
“It is sure to be confrontational and I refuse to reveal where my loyalties will lie so perhaps I’ll settle for saying - May the best team come through on the day!”

Lining up before an England match in the World Cup