Bath confirm the exit of Alex Gray, their American football gamble
Bath have confirmed that ex-NFL player Alex Gray left them in the off-season after making just six appearances during his one-season stint at the Gallagher Premiership club. It was November when Stuart Hooper signed the Atlanta Falcons tight-end, an ex-England 7s rugby player who previously featured for Yorkshire Carnegie, London Irish and Newcastle.
The 30-year-old had called time on his rugby career to see could he make it as an American footballer in the NFL but after three years in the Falcons practice squad, he returned to England to give rugby a second go.
He went on to debut against Sale in February before making four other Premiership appearances, as well as featuring against London Irish in the Challenge Cup. However, his short-term deal was not renewed.
A Bath statement read: “With the likes of England internationals Anthony Watson, Ruaridh McConnochie, Joe Cokanasiga and Semesa Rokoduguni able to play on the wing, alongside 2020/21 breakthrough player of the year Will Muir and homegrown trio Gabriel Hamer-Webb, Gabe Goss and Darren Atkins, game time would have been limited for Gray during the forthcoming season.
“Everyone at Bath wishes Alex the very best of luck in his next challenge. With regards to incomings at the Rec, Bath have the capacity to bring additional players into the squad for the 2021/22 season and the club is working hard to do so.”
TRANSFER: JJ is staying but Bath might be about to lose another Test centre. https://t.co/1NdIhDgZ6n
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) September 3, 2021
Boss Hooper added: “Alex was fantastic to have at the club and he deserved the appearances he made at the back-end of the season. It was good to have him around, but with the squad strong in that area, there wasn’t a position for him going into this season. We wish him all the best in his next challenge.”
It was 2016 when Gray put his rugby career on hold to chase his NFL dream. After progressing through the NFL’s international player pathway programme in Florida, he was snapped up by Atlanta and had been part of their practice squad. Standing at 6ft 4ins and weighing 113kgs when he joined, Bath were hoping Gray would bring “an exciting point of difference after being carefully selected through a rigorous recruitment process”.
Episode three of Bath Rugby Unseen focuses on defence ?
— Bath Rugby (@BathRugby) September 3, 2021
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