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There Will Be Two Richie Grays in Camp

Scotland v Italy, a mess at the breakdown? - pic © Al Ross
Scotland v Italy, a mess at the breakdown? - pic © Al Ross

Scotland Head Coach Vern Cotter has appointed the other Richie Gray as a Defensive Contact Specialist – the one from Gala who knows a thing or two about guddling on the floor for the ball, as opposed to the tall mop-haired one we’re used to.

Gray joins the Scotland set-up following a three-season spell as South Africa’s Specialist Breakdown Coach – culminating in their bronze medal finish at Rugby World Cup 2015 and a game where they pummelled Scotland with their physicality – as well as working with the ‘Blitzbokke’ 7s side. There is no word whether it is a permanent move home; at this point it is “on a consultancy basis for the forthcoming RBS 6 Nations Championship”.

The former Scotland age-grade internationalist was a Scottish Rugby employee from 1994 and 2006, when he worked as a Development Manager, Academy Manager and coach to various Scotland age-grade sides, the South of Scotland, Gala and Biggar RFC.

The award-winning inventor of the ‘Collision King’ technical training range for Rhino which many teams use for training for contact, said: “It’s a great honour to coach any country but to be offered the opportunity to coach your own is something special indeed.

“The defensive breakdown is an area highlighted by the coaches as an area for improvement, for which I’ve been given a very specific brief to work alongside Defence Coach Matt Taylor for the seven-week period of the RBS 6 Nations.

“It’s a great honour and I’m looking forward to joining up with the squad in camp in St Andrews this Sunday.”

Scotland Head Coach, Vern Cotter, said: “On behalf of the national team I’d like to welcome Richie [Gray] to our coaching set-up for the 2016 RBS 6 Nations.

“We’re looking forward to adding his experience and passion to the group.”

It’s a move that is sure to delight many Scotland fans who have called for his inclusion in the past, as one of the few Scottish coaches operating at a top international level, and it adds a little tartan flavour to Cotter’s invigorated coaching team.

18 Responses

  1. Considering his reputation, his skills and the fact that the 6N squad is full of 7s and some other players who are pretty handy at the breakdown, this suggests that Vern wants us to try to steal ball all day. Bring it on I say, looking at the other squads and their histories, no other team has really targeted the breakdown like it seems we are, hopefully this is another part of Vern’s gameplan and that it is going to be a part of our playing style too

  2. Says he’s there to work closely with Matt Taylor as defence coach. But Taylor allows the other team to win the breakdown so we have numbers out wide. So Gray changing breakdown strategy and we start competing is going against Taylor’s defensive strategy?

    Also why only defence and not all breakdowns?

    1. Numerous Australian tries in the qf have probably rendered Taylor’s MO as obsolete in fairness. If we can’t slow down ball, it doesn’t matter if we have numbers if they haven’t had time to re-organise. We need to create that extra 2 or 3 seconds.

      1. Yeah that’s what I thought. But if you don’t like Taylor’s MO why sign him on for another year?

  3. Excellent news. We have been naive for years and allowed teams like Wales and Ireland to cheat us to death upfront. A bit of coaching in the “dark arts” will hopefully give us some cheating parity with the others, and coupled with maybe two 7’s in certain games – horses for courses – we will hopefully slow down a lot of opposition ball.

  4. Great news! Hopefully we will be a lot more disruptive at the breakdown, and if we steal a lot of ball, given the talent in the backline and the cosching of Jason O’Halloran we could be a very potent counter-attacking team.

  5. This is great news, a really serious addition to the coaching set up. Would love to see a bit of breakdown dominance in the 6N. The optimism is stirring…
    In other news I see funky Duncy is moving east. A good move in my opinion. I think his style will work well with Edinburgh, let’s Burleigh move back to 12 with Scott away to Gloucester, and also means that Scotland’s first and second(ish) standoffs aren’t competing for the same league game time.

    1. Yep, makes sense for Weir, Edinburgh and Scotland. Glasgow will want a more reliable back up than the perma-crocked Gregor Hunter though. Horne can obviously stand in but that stretches resources very thin if he sticks around in the Scotland set up.

      Feels like Cotter is putting the pieces in place he wants – Hines, O’Halloran and now Gray have been added. Let’s hope he sticks around long enough to see through his project, he’s still only contracted until after 2017 6N.

  6. Watson and Allan to join Scotland squad. Interesting that that’s yet another specialist 7 making it 5 in the squad. Even more interesting is that it seems to be 5 more than England had in their original squad..

    Also, *groan*, Dunbar appears to be struggling yet again

    1. I’m delighted at this idea. The more players you have on the pitch that are turn over threats the better.

      Pretty much all our back now are ones that thrive on playing against fractured defences and are more than capable defenders when well organised. the more opportunity they have to do both, the better for us.

      I expect to comprehensively demolish the English at the breakdown and yet still contrive to lose. It’s the natural order of things!

  7. I think I overheard a comment on the commentary of the Ospreys v Exeter game yesterday that the excellent young Ospreys blindside (Underhill) is American, English and Scottish qualified – although has been England U20 captain, so has to some degree already nailed his coulours to that mast…but would be a tidy bit of poaching if BVC could convince him otherwise.

    1. Given Scotland have 5 recognised 7s as it is, and England are gagging for any 7 they can get their hands on, he’d be a bit of a fool to jump ships.

      1. aye, although he’s a blindside – so a 6, rather than a 7- but I take your point, it’s a long shot

  8. I’m very pleased with this appointment.

    At least 3rd place this 6nations is what the boys should be targeting to demonstrate to both themselves and the nation that they are building under BVC’s tutelage from the RWC. I would certainly settle for 4th place as enough demonstration but would be ecstatic with 3rd, as that would really make the mark clear.

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