BORDERS rugby coach Richie Gray has left Lyon after helping the club win their first major honour for 89 years. 

Playing in their first final since May 1933, the French outfit produced an outstanding performance to beat rivals Toulonnais by an impressive 30-12 in front of 51,000 fans at the Vélodrome stadium in Marseille. 

Coincidentally, the highly-respected coach has joined defeated finalists Toulon where he teams up with former Lyon head coach Pierre Mignoni, who is current'y Toulon’s director of rugby. 

One of Mignoni's first acts was to hire Gray as the club's contact/collision skills specialist. 

Gala man Gray, who holds a degree in physical education, went straight into game development, coach education, academy development, analysis and professional coaching with the Scottish Rugby Union – a position he held for 12 years. 

He is recognised as one of the world’s leading breakdown coaches, having devised his own training equipment with his business, GSI Performance. 

And he did this in his “laboratory bunker” in Galashiels. 

The garage became a fully-equipped analysis suite; the nerve centre of an operation where the one-time Scotland assistant defines methodology and creates equipment while also coaching at elite level. 

GSI Performance has built up key relationships with partners around the world to provide new technical training aids and innovative coaching programmes to create more technically-skilled players in the sport.

Gray is hugely experienced in the game, having spent three-and-a-half years working with the Springboks and the South Africa 7s team as well as his native Scotland for two seasons. 

And his expertise around collision sports extends to more than rugby. 

Gray has also worked as a consultant for NFL side the Miami Dolphins since 2016.

And we are likely to see him back in Scotland in November as part of the Fiji coaching team for their test against Scotland at BT Murrayfield. 

Richie said: “I spent 8-10 days at Toulon each month as a contact/collision skills specialist consultant then spend the rest of the time on my business GSI Performance. 

“When I gave up being a defensive coach to concentrate on contact and collision, a number of my peers thought I was mad and would never get a job. But I knew the game was changing and it was going to create different challenges

“Having coached at the highest level, I felt it was important to rewrite methodology and design new technical training aids and the business just evolved. Since 2010 I’ve invented 42 separate products, linked to contact and collision. 

“We used to go bone on bone all the time in training, that was just what we did. We did not know any other way and we were all incredibly naïve about impact and head injuries. 

“But now World Rugby guidelines recommend that players should only have 15 minutes of full contact training per week and it’s now a challenge to make sure we are all training properly or player’s techniques can regress.

“So it’s important to get the benefits from the training aid. 

“My opinion is that at every level of the game its about performance, if we can make our players more technically accurate it will in turn make our players safer.”