Richie Gray

19th August 2011 at 01:00
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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