Belfast Telegraph

Peter Browne is feeling right at home at the Kingspan

By Michael Sadlier

Coming to Ulster has thrown up more than just a great career opportunity for new signing Peter Browne, it was also a sort of homecoming for the Bristol-born but Irish-qualified forward.

His father, Leonard, hails from Belfast and attended Belfast Royal Academy, where he played rugby with the fathers of both Iain Henderson and Stuart Olding. And Browne senior wasn't a bad player either, the former second row having represented Ulster and Ireland at schools level back in the mid-1970s.

"I've been coming over to Belfast all my life to see family here," said 27-year-old Browne, who was raised and educated in Cheltenham before attending Durham University.

"So I'm half-Irish," added the player who jumped at the chance to join the squad after spending two years with London Welsh. He gets his second start tonight against Treviso.

"My dad captained Ulster schools and played for Ireland at the same level before then going to university in Cambridge where he played rugby and won a Blue in athletics."

Indeed, the Reverend Leonard Browne - who settled in England after university - is currently chaplain at Deans Close school in Cheltenham, and former headmaster of the prep school, where Peter was educated. He has played an important role in his son's career path.

"When I was 16 or 17 I realised, with the help of my dad and family, that I wanted to pursue rugby and that's when I focused on it," said the player who is versatile enough to play either second row or blindside flanker and who will be watched by some Belfast relatives tonight on his first start at the Kingspan.

Browne had a place at the Gloucester Academy, and was actually involved in an extended Ireland U20s squad, but it was when he was at Durham University that he got his first significant break by hooking up with Newcastle Falcons.

He was good enough to get a contract and then joined Harlequins, where he stayed for three years before another opening presented itself at London Welsh.

He played a season in the Championship and helped win them promotion to the Premiership but was then part of last season's disastrous showing which saw them go straight back down.

"That was tough but I managed to do well enough to get spotted by Ulster," Brown explained. "It's a step up and coming into this (club) you see it's bigger than just rugby, it's about community and Ulster as a whole and you can see that on a Friday night when there are massive crowds.

"It's great to be starting again. The coaches and players still need to see the best of me."

And then there is keeping the watching relatives happy as well.

Belfast Telegraph

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