Kelly Brown keeps whiskey promise to Maro Itoje and backs Scotland for Slam

Kelly Brown, the former captain, is backing Scotland to move a step nearer a first Six Nations Grand Slam by registering a second successive win over France in Paris on February 26 after their best start to the championship.

Having beaten England and produced a record 35-7 win over Wales, Scotland, who won their last Slam when it was five nations in 1990, are tied at the top of the table with Ireland on 10 points after winning their opening two games for the first time since the championship became six teams. Now, Scotland head to Paris to face the reigning champions who were beaten by Ireland 32-19 in Dublin.

Scotland triumphed in Paris two years ago 27-23 with fans missing from the stands due to the pandemic restrictions and while a full Stade de France will be an intimidating challenge this time, Brown, is convinced Gregor Townsend’s men can remain unbeaten with Finn Russell, who plays his club rugby with Racing 92 in Paris, pulling the attacking strings.

Brown, part of the Saracens coaching set up, said: “ It’s brilliant to have won two in a row and it’s an exciting start but Scotland know the next two games – France away and Ireland home (March 12) – are the meat of the tournament. The French game is massive for Scotland and if we beat them in Paris again then that is the big one. It is an unusual feeling for us, but a nice one to be in this position.

“This championship has been great to watch and the boys have achieved something that Scotland have never done which is brilliant. They have been building over the last five or six seasons and this a great start.

“We beat France two seasons ago and we will be looking to crack on although the French are No2 in the World. However, Finn Russell is playing really well and our backs are very dangerous and France will need to be on it from a defensive point of view because this Scottish team does have threats all over the pitch.

“It has been a fantastic championship and the next round will be crucial. Our last win in Paris was achieved without any crowd in the Stade de France and it will be different this time but the boys will travel with a lot of confidence and will be looking to kick on even though France are still an incredibly dangerous side.”

The last round of matches ended with Brown and Maro Itoje sharing a glass whiskey after England’s 31-14 win over Italy on Sunday night to complete a promise he made to his Saracens team mate in a bar in Marbella in 2015.

Brown told the then uncapped Itoje in the bar on one of Saracens famous bonding trips that when the lock forward equalled his 64 international caps he would find him and they would share that special bottle of whiskey.

At the England team hotel in Richmond the whiskey wasn’t 64 years old as Itoje expected and he noted on social media: ”He did backtrack on a couple of technicalities however… Once he realised how expensive 64 year old whiskey was he opted for a slightly cheaper option so I’m still waiting on the whiskey he promised.”

Brown admits it was a shock to discover the cost of a 64 year old bottle and added: “I wasn’t prepared to re-mortgage the house but it was still a very good bottle that we enjoyed at the team hotel although the other part of the deal was that Maro would help me finish it but that didn’t happen. He wasn’t keen to do that. I did a bit of research into a 64 year old bottle and it was several thousands.

“Eight years ago we were in Marbella on a Saracens trip and had done a bit of a bar crawl and we all ended up in the same place and Maro hadn’t been capped at this point. I said to Maro that the day he wins his 64th England cap I will come to wherever he was in the world and I will bring a bottle of whiskey and we will drink it.

“It has been great to watch his career develop and although in Marbella we had enjoyed quite a few drinks, that was probably the only sense I was talking.”

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