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Richie Gray

The Scotland rugby star picks his young, hip coach and the quirky older maths teacher as his big influences at school

The Scotland rugby star picks his young, hip coach and the quirky older maths teacher as his big influences at school

I have absolutely no memory of primary school, which is quite bad. It's one of these things I just can't remember. I enjoyed secondary school, though. I would like to think I was reasonably academic, so I got by quite well, and I didn't get into too much trouble.

School life was good. I took part in most things, was willing to give most things a go. There were a lot of activities in the school.

Mr Kelman was one of my favourite teachers. He was my maths teacher, but I didn't get him until I reached my Highers, so not until quite late on. He was quite strange, but he was also quite funny in his own way. He was just a great guy.

He had quite a teacher look to him - tinted specs, an older gentleman, his trousers a wee bit too high. No offence, I mean that in the kindest possible way.

Mr Kelman got a lot of respect from his pupils, so everyone worked pretty hard in his class. If we had a double period, you got a minute break in between the bells. But although you did work quite hard, it was quite enjoyable at the same time.

I wasn't too bad at maths, so I suppose that helped a wee bit. Looking back at maths, I can say I enjoyed my final year. I look back on it with a smile, and not many people can say that.

Another favourite teacher was my geography teacher, Mr Leighton. He was the first teacher who introduced me to rugby.

When I first came to the secondary school, I was about 11 or 12, and all the first-years had to go to games. Rugby was the main game at the school and he was the coach for first-years.

I was a little bit sceptical in training for the first week, because I didn't have a clue what was going on, but I remember when it came to the first game, that was really enjoyable.

He was a good coach. At that sort of age, it was just about enjoyment and teaching you the basics, so he was very good in that respect. I told him I was new to the sport, but he saw I enjoyed it quite early on, and obviously I was quite tall at that age, so I think he drove me a wee bit harder - I picked it up a wee bit quicker.

It's incredible to think how things might have turned out if he hadn't introduced me to rugby. I was very lucky and it's worked out quite well.

In addition to him being my first rugby coach, I also had Mr Leighton as a geography teacher in third or fourth year. He was quite a laid-back guy, quite funny, and I generally got on well with him. He wasn't overly strict in his classes and there were a lot of open-for-discussion arguments, which are always the best for killing a wee bit of time in classes. Generally, we had quite a good laugh. But although he was lenient, you knew your boundaries.

He was the young, hip teacher who would turn up to class in a pair of tracky-bottoms, he was that sort of a guy. It's like chalk and cheese, the difference between the two teachers I've picked.

To both of them, my message would be thank you very much for your help and support, and I hope you are doing well in whatever you are taking up.

Richie Gray was talking to Julia Belgutay


Born: Glasgow, 1989

Education: King's Park Primary and Kelvinside Academy, Glasgow

Career: Rugby player, second row for the Glasgow Warriors and Scotland international.

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