Tom Brown: Challenge Cup is a tourney Edinburgh can thrive in

Winger Tom Brown believes there are reasons for Edinburgh's performances in Europe being so much better than in the league in the past few seasons.
Tom Brown was part of Edinburghs run to the Challenge Cup final in 2015Tom Brown was part of Edinburghs run to the Challenge Cup final in 2015
Tom Brown was part of Edinburghs run to the Challenge Cup final in 2015

Winger Tom Brown admits he can’t answer why Edinburgh’s performances in Europe have been so much better than in the league in the past few seasons.

The winger was just 22 when he played at full-back as Edinburgh reached the Heineken Cup semi-finals in 2012 and three years later he featured off the bench in the defeat by Gloucester in the European Challenge Cup final at Twickenham Stoop.

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Last season too, Edinburgh put their ‘domestic’ struggles aside as they reached the quarter-finals of the second-tier competition after a home and away double over Harlequins and a win over Stade Francais helped them get out of the pool. They lost at home to La Rochelle in the last eight.

“I’m not entirely sure why,” said the 27-year-old ahead of tomorrow’s Challenge Cup opener at London Irish. “Previously the European cups have allowed us to play the game we want to play, we’ve got the ability to go out there and really perform.

“Once we get the momentum in Europe and having that mindset, I think it’s key. If you have a mindset ‘we’ve had success in Europe” you seem to mentally approach the game a wee bit better. I can’t put my finger on it but once we get a couple of wins under our belt, tails up it’s something we look forward to play in.”

A change is as good as a rest as the saying goes and Brown feels that Edinburgh do seem to thrive on facing less familiar opposition.

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“Possibly. It’s a new competition, a fresh competition. The way that the [English] Premiership and French teams play maybe helps us with a different style,” said Brown.

“It maybe opens things up a wee bit more for us. Going back to lat week [the 16-15h ome win over Zebre] that really was a must-win game and you could see the pressure on the pitch in the performance. It’s about using that pressure as a positive.”

London Irish will not be too exotic, however, as Edinburgh faced them in their pool a couple of seasons ago and also beat them in Reading at the quarter-final stage of their run to that 2015 final.

“We have played Irish a few times and it will be a good challenge,” said Brown. “Going into Europe is a different challenge, new opposition and competition. The boys are looking forward to it.

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“Getting one over one of the [English] Premiership sides is a factor and we do want to see where we are. We need to concentrate on ourselves but Irish will be a tough ask as they play an expansive game.”

After three wins from six at the start of the Pro14, Brown feels that Edinburgh have set a platform to now push on during what is always a season-defining few weeks.

“The strength in depth that we have is healthy competition and the quality of training has improved,” he said. “We are bringing that hard work from the training field onto the park now. Everybody is on their toes and playing well. It is an improvement.

“We want to approach the same way. It is a new tournament and exciting. We want to approach it like any other game and analyse the opposition.

“Having the French and Prem teams means there is more hype amongst the public but for us it is the same attitude for every game.”