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Exeter Chiefs statement: The immediate effect exit of Jonny Gray

By Liam Heagney
Exeter's Jonny Gray (Photo by Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images)

Scotland international Jonny Gray has called time on his five-season stint with Exeter, the second row and the Chiefs coming to an agreement that has allowed the 30-year-old to exit Sandy Park with immediate effect.

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It was last December when RugbyPass reported that the Scottish forward, a 2020 Heineken Champions Cup and Gallagher Premiership double winner for Rob Baxter’s side, was reportedly set to join Bordeaux for the 2024/25 season.

Gray still hasn’t played since dislocating his knee cap in last April’s Champions Cup semi-final loss to La Rochelle in Bordeaux and he has now decided to step away from Exeter even though they are still in the hunt to make the end-of-season Premiership play-offs.

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Nemani Nadolo on his peak and once being considered “too big”

Former Fijian winger Nemani Nadolo chats to Liam Heagney about when he reached his peak and how he was actually at one stage considered too big to play rugby.

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Nemani Nadolo on his peak and once being considered “too big”

Former Fijian winger Nemani Nadolo chats to Liam Heagney about when he reached his peak and how he was actually at one stage considered too big to play rugby.

A statement read: “Exeter Chiefs and lock Jonny Gray have mutually agreed an early release from the club, with the Scotsman departing Sandy Park with immediate effect to explore other playing opportunities. The Scottish international has made 48 Chiefs appearances, scoring 10 tries.

“During his four years at Sandy Park, Gray has been an integral part of many successes for Chiefs – including playing in both matches of the Gallagher Premiership and Heineken Champions Cup double of 2020.

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“Gray was originally lined up as the Chiefs headline signing for the 2020/21 season before the pandemic meant he debuted during the restructured conclusion of the 2019/20 campaign. A product of Cambuslang Rugby Club, Gray followed older brother Richie into Glasgow Warriors colours in 2012.

“In eight years at Warriors’ Scotstoun home, Gray amassed 110 appearances, a PRO12 title, and had the Warriors captaincy bestowed on him at the tender age of 21 following the retirement of his mentor, Al Kellock.

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“Joining a group of Scottish expats in Exeter in 2020 – Stuart Hogg, Sam Skinner, and Sam Hidalgo-Clyne also represented Chiefs during Gray’s tenure – the Scotsman soon made his mark in a Chiefs shirt. The club wishes Jonny all the best for the future.”

Director of rugby Baxter said:  “Jonny has been a big part of our journey in recent seasons. He has been a great figure to have amongst our squad, with his international experience and the physicality he brings to games – his tackle stats speak for themselves.

“He has experienced some injury frustration during the end of his time with us, but I’m sure Jonny will do everything he can to come back stronger as he moves on to the next step of his rugby journey. I’d like to thank Jonny for everything he gave to the Chiefs shirt, and I know the club and fans will join me in wishing him all the best for the future.”

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D
Diarmid 9 hours ago
Players and referees must cut out worrying trend in rugby – Andy Goode

The guy had just beasted himself in a scrum and the blood hadn't yet returned to his head when he was pushed into a team mate. He took his weight off his left foot precisely at the moment he was shoved and dropped to the floor when seemingly trying to avoid stepping on Hyron Andrews’ foot. I don't think he was trying to milk a penalty, I think he was knackered but still switched on enough to avoid planting 120kgs on the dorsum of his second row’s foot. To effectively “police” such incidents with a (noble) view to eradicating play acting in rugby, yet more video would need to be reviewed in real time, which is not in the interest of the game as a sporting spectacle. I would far rather see Farrell penalised for interfering with the refereeing of the game. Perhaps he was right to be frustrated, he was much closer to the action than the only camera angle I've seen, however his vocal objection to Rodd’s falling over doesn't legitimately fall into the captain's role as the mouthpiece of his team - he should have kept his frustration to himself, that's one of the pillars of rugby union. I appreciate that he was within his rights to communicate with the referee as captain but he didn't do this, he moaned and attempted to sway the decision by directing his complaint to the player rather than the ref. Rugby needs to look closely at the message it wants to send to young players and amateur grassroots rugby. The best way to do this would be to apply the laws as they are written and edit them where the written laws no longer apply. If this means deleting laws such as ‘the put in to the scrum must be straight”, so be it. Likewise, if it is no longer necessary to respect the referee’s decision without questioning it or pre-emptively attempting to sway it (including by diving or by shouting and gesticulating) then this behaviour should be embraced (and commercialised). Otherwise any reference to respecting the referee should be deleted from the laws. You have to start somewhere to maintain the values of rugby and the best place to start would be giving a penalty and a warning against the offending player, followed by a yellow card the next time. People like Farrell would rapidly learn to keep quiet and let their skills do the talking.

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