The death of Adam Gray, from complications following heart surgery, will leave a massive hole in Scottish Rugby, where he was a leading Council and Board member and very much seen as a champion of the ordinary clubs.
The host of tributes paid to Adam following his death demonstrate how highly this quiet dairy farmer from Galloway was respected across Scottish rugby, and in particular in the Glasgow South sub-region which he represented on the SRU Council.
The Grays have farmed successfully at Ingliston Farm, Borgue for generations; and, from Borgue Primary School, Adam was sent off to Loretto to be educated. From there he went to Newcastle University to study agriculture, before returning to the family farm.
In the farming world, he was for a time prominent in the Simmental Society, and, after it was decided to concentrate on dairying, on the Dairy Council.
He also knew his sheep, and at the Kelso Ram Sales one year, he met his future brother-in-law, the “White Shark,” John Jeffrey.
Along the way he caught the rugby bug and he was soon established in the local Stewartry club’s first XV. His devotion to Stewartry was absolute, as player, captain and then, after a broken bone ended his playing career, coach, where he met with a lot of success, not least in sending a string of young players such as Alex Craig, Stafford McDowall and Robbie Smith on to greater things. He was named National League Coach of the Year in 2005.
Adam’s ability to get the best out of young players was soon capitalised on by the Glasgow Region when, in 2003, he was appointed coach to the Glasgow Under-18 squad. He was also a staff coach at the Scotland Under-17 camps in Valladolid in 2007 and 2008.
By this time he had temporarily given up farming, to become a full-time SRU employee, as Performance Development Manager for Glasgow South, between 2006 and 2010. He then moved onto the referees selection and advisory panels.
Back running the farm, he was elected to the SRU Council in 2015, joining John Jeffrey in high office, succeeding the great Bill McMurtrie as Glasgow South Council member – a clear case of replacing one of the good guys with another. Then, at the 2019 SRU AGM, he was elected onto the full SRU Board, another popular appointment.
His was a huge constituency, from Annan across to Stranraer and up to the south bank of the River Clyde.
But, Adam got round the clubs, keeping his finger on the pulse of the game, as well as putting in the long trips up to Murrayfield for Council and Board meetings. He was a great servant to the game in Scotland.
Just weeks before his death, with the SRU in turmoil over the Gammell/Murray governance report, Adam was appointed onto the Task Force to look into the way forward for governance; that body is the poorer for his passing.
In 1991 he met, wooed and married Lissie, after her accountancy company relocated her to Kirkcudbright. They were a formidable team, and, with his passing, Lissie, daughter Georgina and son Cameron, who was in the first year of a golf scholarship to a college in Texas, are having a crash course in running a successful dairy farm.
That Cameron should be a golfer is another reflection on Adam – he was a good player himself as a member of the local Kirkcudbirght Golf Club. He was also prominent in support of Borgue Primary School, both as a community councillor and as one-time Chair of the school’s parent council..
Adam Gray will be a hard act to follow. He was a rugby enthusiast who only wanted to make a difference and make Scottish Rugby better, and he put huge efforts into bringing this about. He will be sorely missed.
Ayrshire Bulls Chief Executive Glen Tippett, who worked alongside Adam when both were with the SRU, said: “This is a hard one to take; it’s difficult for his family, and the suddenness has shocked everyone. Adam was a true rugby man, who gave so much to the game. He knew his stuff and will be very difficult to replace.”
His funeral was obviously, at this time, a quiet family affair, but, when the restrictions are lifted, there will be a memorial service.