Shaunagh Brown column: The neck injury is a reminder that rugby isn’t everything

A graphic reading: Shaunagh Brown, BBC Sport columnist, with a picture of Shaunagh Brown

England won a Grand Slam in Women's Six Nations and a fourth straight title against France on Saturday. I couldn't be there.

I was injured in my neck during training and had to leave camp before the rest of the team could go to Bayonne.

Your neck hurts when you use it as a prop. However, any injury to the spine or that area is extremely dangerous.

Initially, I trained and used painkillers and antiinflammatories. But, when my condition did not improve, I discussed it with the team doctors and decided to stop all activities – no running or weight lifting. I was still receiving treatment for it for a few hours every day.

Although it is improving now, there was a time when I wondered if I could ever play again.

Although I was not happy with the decision of my doctor to send me home from England camp, he was almost anxious about telling me.

I know that there are other things in life than rugby. I don't think I would ever risk my quality of life to play again.

There are huge stakes with the World Cup right around the corner. But, I could accept not playing if it meant that I would have to use my neck for my entire life.

Even with medical scans, neck injuries can be difficult. If you took a picture of my neck and compared it to that of someone who hasn't played rugby, it would appear a different state.

This could cause you to take the wrong course of action in trying to treat something that looks different on the scan than what my body has been dealing.

Instead, a physiologist diagnosed the problem. And, as I mentioned, it has improved with time so I am hopeful that I can play for Harlequins this Saturday as we seek to secure our spot in the Premier 15s playoffs.

Six Nations of the ‘Biggest Women's Nations'

Even though I was not there, I was able play my part at the Women's Six Nations Super Saturday' finale.

All round five fixtures were played one after another on Saturday, and I was at a watch party in a central London pub.

Similar events were taking place in different places, and I had never seen that before.

It's a sign of how big the tournament has grown – it is the largest Women's Six Nations event I have ever witnessed.

It was truly special to have so many women gather together to view it.

I brought a friend along with me. On the way back, he told me that he'd never seen so many women in one pub.

This is the problem, and that is what is important. Although women may not wish to sit in sports bars with men, it was safe for them to watch the television and see women's sports.

It was a large investment by the organizers and they promised to do similar things for women's sports in the future.

Anthony Watson, England men's sidekick, was also present. It was a great opportunity to see more men playing for women's Rugby.

They are also playing on weekends so they won't be able to watch every game. However, they can repost something about us winning Women's Six Nations on social media.

They have more power than people think. They can post it and even if only 10% click on it, it will help.

“Huge pressure with the favourites tag”

Many will say England is the World Cup favourites after such dominance by the Six Nations.

It feels great, but it comes with a lot of pressure.

As with all sports, any event at a World Cup could be rearranged.

New Zealand has a new coaching team with men's coach who are familiar with the sport.

Fiji, France and Spain are also in our pool. With their unpredictable play style and bronze medal in sevens at Tokyo Olympics, they are somewhat unknown.

France has lost 10 of their previous games against us, and I'm sure that they will turn that into rocket fuel for the tournament here in New Zealand.

We won't let our feet off the gas, that is a theme we share as a group.

We expect a five month camp period between July and November for the World Cup. Training camps will also be held during a preseason period before New Zealand travels. It will be difficult mentally and physically.

We need to continue learning and growing because, even though our 23-game winning streak is over and we have yet another Grand Slam, tomorrow will be another day.

Shaunagh Brown was speaking with Becky Grey from BBC Sport.

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