WHAT a year it’s been for one of the most popular rugby characters in the Borders, Richie Gray, writes Stuart Cameron.
The former Gala captain has been involved in a host of activities within the game, including coaching, commentating for BBC Radio Scotland, being programme leader for the groundbreaking BASE Borders Academy of Sporting Excellence concept, and inventing.
And it’s as inventor of the Collision King contact machine that he has been most recently recognised, by winning the award for Most Innovating Training Aid at the prestigious Rugby Expo 2011 event in London.
Gray, who received the trophy from Sky Sports and ex-English scrum half Peter Richards, spent four years working on his invention which services a part of the game which had largely been ignored.
The contact area has become such a big part of rugby and he decided to put his efforts into producing something which would be useful, not only to international and professional players, but people taking part at the grassroots level.
Earlier this year the Collision King attracted the interest of one of the world’s leading suppliers of sports equipment, Rhino, and in the space of six months his invention has taken the rugby world by storm.
“We’ve got to a point now where the feedback from top coaches and players around the world is what is now selling this training aid,” he told us.
Gray spent a few weeks in New Zealand during the World Cup meeting with coaches and interested parties, including the international sides and teams like Wales, Scotland and Georgia have already been using it.
Now the invention is set to go global and understandably his backers are now very interested in Gray’s next ideas.
Off the blocks will be a smaller version of the Collision King for younger players aged between 12 to 16 years.
Gray commented: “Interest has been so great across all rugby levels that there will be a junior version coming off the production line in January. From a product launched four months ago to be awarded the world’s most innovative training aid at Rugby Expo 2011 has been a tremendous end to its official launch period.”