Everyone at Sale Sharks was devastated in June when Sean Browne, aged 32, passed away following a short illness. Sean was a regular participant at Sharks Community Trust’s Down Syndrome sessions held fortnightly at the Carrington Training Ground.
Sean’s death was a complete shock to his family, friends and teammates. Sean was a very fun, loving and caring man. Most importantly he would lighten up any room he entered and any field he played on. His smile was contagious and his love for life and the ability to see the good in everything was extraordinary.
Sean was a huge Sale Sharks fan and attended many games at the AJ Bell stadium proudly wearing his Sale Sharks shirt. Sean will be greatly missed at matches and at the Down Syndrome rugby sessions. Ever since the Trust started coaching with Stockport All Stars mixed ability team on a Sunday, Sean has never missed a session, his commitment to rugby was next to none!
Since the sad news, everyone at Sharks Community Trust and Sale Sharks have been thinking about how Sean’s legacy can be continued and have decided to rename the Down Syndrome rugby sessions in his honour. Therefore with immediate effect, the fortnightly sessions will be called the ‘Crusaders Fin Club’.
Sean was born and raised in Hong Kong. Like his brothers, he started playing mini-rugby at the age of 5. Unfortunately, due to medical issues he was unable to continue after the U8 level when the game progressed from tag rugby to full contact rugby. However, he remained a passionate and committed supporter of the game. At international fixtures, he would escort the Hong Kong squad on to the pitch and stand proudly side by side with the players for the playing of the national anthems. The Hong Kong Rugby Union are also making plans to organise tag rugby sessions for special needs players as a legacy to Sean and when the Tens Rugby Tournament resumes in Hong Kong, the organising committee intend to name the best and fairest player award after Sean.
Sean’s favourite rugby team was the New Zealand Super Team, the Crusaders. Many of their players played at some time in Hong Kong either in the Sevens or the 10’s. When Sean had to give up playing mini rugby for the Hong Kong Football Club, the club’s soccer section set up soccer coaching sessions for players with special needs. At Sean’s instigation, they called the team the Crusaders and Sean was very proud to be made the team captain.
Sean was an integral part of why the Trust started up its Down Syndrome rugby programme and renaming these sessions will help portray what the sessions are all about. Bibs are also being created with Sean’s initials on the bottom.
Vicky Irwin, Community Manager at Sharks Community Trust said,
We have thought long and hard about how we can continue Sean’s legacy through our Down Syndrome rugby sessions, after speaking to Kevin, Sean’s dad, we know how much including the Crusaders into the name would mean to Sean. Sean’s smile was contagious, he was a huge character with a big heart this is greatly missed by so many. We will never forget Sean and the happiness that he bought to so many people, particularly to his involvement with Sale Sharks. We know that this will help continue his legacy and although on a Sunday he will no longer be with us in person, we know he will be with us in spirit.
Kevin Browne, Sean’s dad, said,
Sean was immensely proud of his association with Sale Sharks. During lockdown he never missed watching the games on TV. On the 21 March 2021, we watched the match against the London Irish. Sean became very excited when he noticed that the Sharks players were all wearing odd socks. The commentator later confirmed that this was to celebrate the fact that the match was taking place on Worlds Down Syndrome Day, an official global awareness day to promote the interest of persons with Down Syndrome. The Sharks were the only professional team to join in the celebration of this special day. Being involved with the Sharks rugby programme was not only great physical exercise for Sean, the sessions are great fun and provide much needed opportunities for Sean and his friends to socialise and be part of a team.