Given the troubles England endured during the Six Nations Championship, it would be easy to assume the last thing their players might want to see on a rare week off would be a rugby ball.
And yet Mike Brown, the England full-back, opted to spend some of his down time on a holiday in the UAE on the playing fields of Dubai College rather than the beach.
That included, on one of the days, spending three hours playing – rather, he says, than coaching per se – alongside the 64 children who signed up to an Easter-holiday coaching course held at the school.
Brown’s presence was the main attraction at the training camp, which was organised by Kooh Sports, the company behind the It’s Just Football and It’s Just Cricket academies, and involved coaches from Dubai Exiles.
The organisers said he has not even asked for a fee for his participation, but he wants to be involved again in future. And Brown said he was impressed by the talent on show.
“We’ve had snow on and off for a couple of months [in the UK], so it is great to get over here,” Brown said.
“In this weather, and with the pitches how they are, it is great to be able to focus on skills, as well as enjoyment with everyone running around having fun, which you might not be able to do on boggy pitches with it snowing.
“You can see that in the skills these guys have got. It would be brilliant in the future to be able to get more kids to come along and help them with their development.”
Brown says he would be happy to let Harlequins, his club side in London, know of any players he thought might have the talent to progress further in the game from the fields of Dubai. It means the club are well covered for scouting in the UAE, given their affiliation with Abu Dhabi's largest rugby club.
“In the future, my plan is to keep this going, and from what I’ve seen the standard of rugby is amazing,” Brown said. “With the standard of clubs and schools playing rugby here, it would be great to tap into that talent, and if we see any good ones, give Quins a little tip off.”
Brown has been in Dubai to recharge his batteries ahead of the run in to the English Premiership season. It has also meant time to reflect on the Six Nations.
England finished fifth in the competition, having won it the previous two seasons, suffering defeat to Scotland, France and Ireland in the process.
Brown believes the side have learnt some vital lessons as they build towards next year, which includes the World Cup in Japan.
“A bit of disappointment individually helps everyone to go away and work harder on their games,” Brown said.
“You feel a hunger driven on by disappointment, but also as a team, it is great to learn some lessons that will stand us in good stead at the World Cup.
“The two main things that let us down were discipline and the breakdown. Those are massive key points that we will be working on.
“Disappointment along the way is fine, so long as you learn from it and move on quickly, and work even harder. I think this group of players will do that, with the squad we have got.”