England and Harlequins forward Shaunagh Brown says rugby isn't just for 'middle-class white kids'

Shaunagh Brown has 10 caps for England (PA Images)
8:03am, Fri 01 Nov 2019
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Harlequins and England rugby forward Shaunagh Brown has highlighted the importance of opening the sport up to more than just the 'middle-class from private school'.

The 29-year-old, who made her international debut against Canada in 2017, is one of only two women of colour to be given a central contract by the Red Roses this season.

And Brown believes she can act as a role model to encourage those from more deprived backgrounds to get into sport.

Speaking to BBC Sport as a part of Black History Month, she said: "When I visit schools and clubs, it's generally white kids playing.

"You need grass to play and I went to a secondary school that didn't have any. It's about going to places where rugby is not accessible and opening it up to more people. 

"It's not just for those who went to a private school or who come from a middle-class background."

The prop is distinctive when she plays because of her self-professed trademark hair, which she embraces as a part of her image.

"I get so much encouragement," she said.

"Two of the regular girls that turn up to watch every game, one of whom is white, wore afros once just to represent me."

Brown believes the way she carries herself, the way she speaks, and the confidence she has can act as motivation to others who come from her background.

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    "I have always been aware that as long as I want to do something, I can put myself forward and do it - but some people don't have that," she said.

    "They need to be shown, and I'm OK with that - whether it's by playing rugby or going into a job that's male dominated like gas engineering or commercial diving.

    "If they can see it being done by a mixed-race female from south London - who doesn't say all her 't's and 'th's - then they can do it."