Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Big Richie Sets Sale

It has been confirmed today that Scotland and Glasgow lock Richie Gray will move south next year to take up duties with Premiership side Sale Sharks.  The new poster boy of Scottish rugby has quickly risen to be a key player for both Scotland and Glasgow over the last 18 months and it is probably no surprise that he has chosen to continue his career south of the border. Hopefully Richie will be able to continue his development in the week in, week out dogfight that is the English top flight which can only benefit the national team in the long run.  Whilst Glasgow will undoubtedly miss his whole-hearted, hard-hitting displays it will create an opportunity for someone else to step into his (what must be!) huge shoes – hopefully a young Scot!

Surprising though is the timing of the announcement, given the Heineken Cup and the need to be one big happy family in the coming weeks. Sale could be forgiven for their excitement though, as for them it is a major signing of one of rugby’s fast rising stars and he should slot into the squad alongside old Glasgow mucker Richie Vernon and fellow Scots Ali Dickinson and Fraser Mackenzie. Who would you cheer for in a Sale vs Gloucester match now?

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4 Responses

  1. Rory has said his bit above, so here are my views, for what they’re worth:

    The way this has happened is fairly surprising. Do Sale Sharks need to sate their fans for some reason with news like this? The timing is poor because Glasgow have been going well and building confidence. This may only be a minor speedbump but it is still something to overcome. The press release from Glasgow certainly betrays their emotions. They’re a wee bit miffed, to say the least! Sale seem to have rushed through this news. News which could have waited until they had been having more than two poor results in a row, or even after two weeks of European action. Glasgow would certainly have been greatful for that.

    If the package offered was ‘competitive’ then it would have been one high, but not too high. They will have tried to make an emotional case with a fairly large cash offer. Not as high as some internationals (and although I would never ever reveal figures, believe you me there are some astronomical earners in our game!) but still something substantial. Did they offset this because of his age? Perhaps. However, you get the impression that as Glasgow were so ‘prompt’ about a counter offer Gray may have, himself, rushed to a decision here. By making this announcement now Sale have also left Gray to carry the can. Because everything seems to have been rushed through those at Scotstoun will not be able to hide their distate; those in the Gray household are having to apologise almost for their ambition. Sale will pick up the pieces in the off season.

    As a move, is it the right one? Probably. He is opting to go to a combative league. In order to work on his failing in the scrummage and to hone his close skills his only options were England or France. Could he have improved further at Glasgow? I don’t think so.

    He has been with Sean Lineen and Shade Munro for four years now and they had gotten him to the International stage. They aren’t, though, going to change anything now and if he wants to improve he certainly had to find a new challenge. He was never going to go to Edinburgh.

    Of course I had previously thought that the re-signing of Gray was the next big step after tying down youngsters like Harley, Wilson, Fusaro, Weir, Grant, Jackson and Ryder. I thought that they would allow Barclay and Beattie to move on in search of improvement and push Gray further into centre stage. Instead Gray is opting out and the re-signing of Barclay in particular takes on huge significance…

    Of course, as with my above paragraph, there is an area unconsidered. Maybe Gray left because he was centre stage.

    The SRU will still use him as a marketing tool. He will be in every single advert or jersey-selling poster when Chris Paterson retires. There will be no bigger representative of the Thistle. However, with him doing that same job for Glasgow already it was maybe a little too much for him to cope with on top of his rugby. Particularly when he is still developing. In the Premiership there are a lot more swollen heads and marquee names to deal with. Maybe this move is one to blend in with the pack and focus on his rugby…

  2. “Maybe this move is one to blend in with the pack and focus on his rugby” ?
    Given he coloured his hair blond so he’d stand out while I don’t know the lad, he does not strike me as someone who particularly wants to blend in with the pack.

    The statement on the club web site is, I think, telling – and continues to distinguish itself from the previous regime. It’s quite clear that they did not want him to go, and that they think a good offer was put before him.

    The timing of the announcement is as you say very poor. In a week when Scottish rugby should be making the news for their participation in the Heineken Cup, we instead have what seems on face value a negative story.

    I’ve heard some people say that Sale will be sympathetic over player release for internationals, but I’m not sure that this is within their control. Is this not governed by Premier Rugby who have a track record of being uncooperative with Wales, Ireland, and Scotland? Moreover, if he’d stayed with Glasgow then I’m sure he’d have been given “rest periods” much like the Irish do with their best players.

    I agree with what has been said above that the resigning of Barclay now takes on greater importance, likewise Cusiter. While I’m sure the media would pick up on it negatively I think it might be good for Johnny Beattie if he found a move. Sure he’d be missed, but at this moment in time he’s missed in that he’s no where near his best and the coaches don’t seem able to bring that out in him at the moment.

    How long a contract is Hines on in France? I know he’s getting on in years but if he came to Glasgow in the summer that would I think be seen very positively, and I think would help bring on the likes of young Nick Campbell who might be the long term successor to big Richie. Certainly Campbell has already endeared himself to the fans with some fine performances. Hines is also the kind of player that Glasgow lack at the moment, i.e. a ball carrier that can break the gain line.

    One final thought, do Richie Gray and Fraz McKenzie both play No. 4 ? Could they work as a pair?

  3. It is suggested by A.D. that Richie Gray would not continue to improve with Glasgow. Not fair, this man has exceptional talent, and as a young man I am sure he has a lot of improvement in him, regardless of where he plays. It’s a shame to see him leave, but at the same time a move to the English Premiership could make him an even better player, and as a loyal Scot first and foremost I’m not complaining about that. Sadly, just at this moment Richie appears to be the only Scot capable of being called truly World class. Understandable reaction from Glasgow fans as they will undoubtedly miss him, but my own opinion is that we should wish him well instead of moan, and hope that he will become an even better player for Scotland in the future. All the best, Richie

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion