IT wasn’t a hard decision for Fraser Brown to make when it came to the crunch. The end of his current two year deal with Glasgow Warriors this summer was probably his last chance to really have a crack at seeing how he would fair in the top flight English or French leagues, but when a three year contract extension offer at Scotstoun was put on the table – which would keep him at the club until the summer of 2023, by which time he will be turning 34 – he didn’t really need to think twice.
It was Warriors who resurrected his pro rugby career back during the 2012-13 season, after he had been thrown onto the scrap-heap in his early 20s following a series of injury-ravaged years with Edinburgh. For that reason alone, he feels a deep sense of loyalty to the club; and as one of Scottish rugby’s deeper thinkers – who has been refreshingly open in the past about the dark times in his life – he has a highly-tuned sense of belonging.
“It’s no secret how the start of my career went, so to be able to revive that and stay here for another three years is brilliant,” said Brown, after putting pen to paper on the new deal. “I feel like this is my second career and like this is a second lease of life for me in terms of being a professional rugby player.
“I’m forever indebted to Gregor Townsend and Shade Munro when I first came in here. But the Glasgow family as a whole – the club, the players, the fans – have taken me in.
“Whenever your contract comes to the end and there’s the possibility to have a look somewhere else, you’d be silly if you didn’t at least explore your options. But I still believe my best rugby is ahead of me and I believe that Glasgow is still the best place for me in terms of achieving that because we have great players, great coaches and great fans.
“Family is also important. My parents live just off the west coast. My wife and I are happy, and we are well looked after here at Glasgow.
“Rugby is like every walk of life. There are days when you wake up and think: ‘Why the hell am I doing this?’ But you’re always able to grasp the reason why you love doing it. It’s still something I enjoy – be it playing, training or just being around the guys and the social side of it all. We play a great brand of rugby and, ultimately, you’ve got to enjoy what you do.”
While 46-times capped Brown’s status as a veteran is now fairly well-established, he hopes that his slow start in professional rugby means that he has more miles left on the clock at the back end of his career.
“Working with Dave Rennie and the other coaches, they’ve added something to my game over the past couple of years that I maybe didn’t necessarily think I needed,” he said. “But, on reflection, you can see just how much they want to improve you as a player all the time. Staying fit and keeping on improving are key to, hopefully, playing for a good while longer.
“If you look five or six years ago, it was maybe just all about being a traditional sort of set-piece style of hooker,” he explained, when asked for clarification about where he thinks his game has developed in recent years. “It’s moved away from that now and you’ve got to have an all-round game. Whether it’s having the ability to step and run 40 metres – which, by the way, I don’t! – but it’s about still having that footwork and ability in contact to break through. Being a little bit more aggressive defensively as well.”
While Brown is still clearly getting a lot out of his rugby, he has already started thinking about life after hanging up his boots. “I’m doing a history degree at university just now and I’m on a coaching pathway with the SRU, so I’ll see which of those two is the lesser evil,” he explained.