Glasgow fans who harboured hopes that Richie Gray might be tempted back to his home town club to partner brother Jonny in the Warriors second row were left disappointed last night by the news that the 26-year-old Scotland lock is to join Toulouse from the start of next season.
Gray’s current contract with Castres runs out at the end of the current campaign and he is reported to have agreed a three-year-deal with their fellow Top 14 side.
Gray senior is said to enjoy life in France and he may not even have to move house since Castres is just 40-odd miles from Toulouse and for a long time was seen as little more than a feeder club to its richer and more established near neighbour.
Gray has led a peripatetic life since bursting on to the scene in Glasgow colours back in season 2008/09. He moved to Sale Sharks in 2012 but it did not prove a long standing success. The Sharks struggled in the Premiership that season, finishing a lowly tenth out of the 12 clubs in the Aviva Premiership and Gray moved on after just one season.
That seems to be a recurring theme with the older of the Gray brothers. A big-money move to Castres followed but while they were French champions the year before he joined, for only the fourth time in the club’s long history, they came perilously close to being relegated from the Top 14 last time out. Castres finished with the same number of points as Baynone, who were relegated, but ended above them in the final standing thanks to a superior points difference.
While Toulouse are not the unstoppable force they were when claiming their four European titles, neither are they the sort to languish at the ugly end of the league. They currently sit second in the Top 14, just behind Clermont, with six wins from eight outings in the league.
Toulouse lost badly to Saracens in the opening round of European ties last weekend but bounced back with a win at home over French rivals Oyonnax on Saturday afternoon to keep their hopes of a place in the play-offs alive.
Their new signing caught the eye during the recent Rugby World Cup with a series of athletic performances, possibly inspired by competition from brother Jonny, especially in defence. Rumours suggest that both Bordeaux Begles, the current champions Toulon and even Bath were interested in the 51-times capped Scottish international but it is Stade Toulousain’s colours that Gray will sport next season.