Glasgow Warriors confirmed this morning that star lock Richie Gray would be leaving them at the end of this season. The 22 year old, famous as much for his play as his height and hair, has signed a three year deal that will take him south of the border into England to Aviva Premiership side Sale Sharks, joining former Warriors team mate Richie Vernon.
Speaking to Glasgow Warriors following the announcement, Gray told of how it had been a tough decision to make, and was one that he had made on personal challenges for his career, stressing that it was not financially motivated. He also mentioned how amazing the support he has received from the fans at Glasgow Warriors over the years and that he will continue to impress them as the season wears on.
The young player has rapidly become a rising star of the global game over the past year, but that does little to ease the disappointment of the Warriors fans, many of whom have watched him develop as a player since joining the squad in August 2008. If you were to go to Firhill Stadium on a Friday night, many people there would be wearing, or waving, masks of the blonde player who has become such a big part of the team.
Taking to Twitter to voice their opinions on the news, there are plenty of those who are saddened by it, but wish him all the luck in the world. Whereas others are more sceptical, appearing to be disenchanted with the SRU’s talk of keeping the biggest stars in Scotland:
@neil_macdougall disappointed but inevitable I guess, we don’t seem to be able to hold onto our top talent to actually build a team to compete properly over the longer term
@ayatollah78 can’t help feeling that Glasgow are the poor relations, slowly becoming Scotland’s Connacht/Dragons/Highlanders.
@elfieatlanticx we’ll need new masks :-(
Glasgow Warriors appeared to be making a committed effort to keeping good players in Scotland, having recently re-signed Scotland fly half Ruaridh Jackson, as well as signing young number 8 Ryan Wilson. However Gray’s departure is another in a growing list of big names going elsewhere; Dan Parks, Kelly Brown, Richie Vernon, Max Evans, all key players in the Scotland set up, and were also key to the Warriors set up too.
Losing Richie Gray will be a big loss to the club, but for the next six months, Gray will be a regular feature on the Firhill pitch, and with the Heineken Cup starting for them on Sunday, and a successful run in the RaboDirect Pro 12, it is certain that whatever happens, Richie Gray will ensure he goes out with a bang.