EXCLUSIVE: Philadelphia Eagles’ unstoppable ‘tush push’ gets boost from Scottish Rugby coach Richie Gray… but will the NFL ultimately outlaw the ‘brotherly shove’?
- Gray served as the Skills/Breakdown Coach for The South African National Team
- Outside Rugby, Grey has been helping bolster the Philadelphia Eagles’ offense
- DailyMail.com provides all the latest international sports news
The Philadelphia Eagles have kicked up a storm in the NFL by running a play similar to a rugby maul — and they’ve drafted in a former Scotland coach to take it to the next level.
Labelled the ‘brotherly shove’ because it is best played by the team from the city of brotherly love, the move sees two players line-up behind their quarterback to push him into the line during the play.
Generally used when a team aims to gain a yard or so, the tactic — also called ‘the tush push’ — is proving to be very effective.
Some are calling for it to be banned because they feel the way the Eagles play it is illegal. Certainly, when well done, it is impossible to stop — and the effectiveness of the play is currently dominating headlines in the USA.
The Eagles staff look on such criticism as professional jealously and they’ve left no stone unturned in their bid to improve its potency even further, which is where Scots-born coach Richie Gray comes in.
Rugby coach Richie Gray was appointed by the Eagles to help improve the ‘brotherly shove’
The Eagles got a lot of criticism for using the play, some asked for it to be banned from the NFL
Rugby fans will know Gray from his time as part of Vern Cotter’s backroom staff with Scotland and also for successful spells as an assistant coach with the Springboks and the South Africa sevens team.
Gray, from Galashiels, has recently signed a three-year contract extension to work with Toulon in France, while he has his own training equipment company that supplies rugby clubs and NFL sides.
His profile has exploded over the last few days since sports programmes started to debate ‘the brotherly shove’. Podcasts, TV shows and radio broadcasts have all been examining the play. It has always been in existence but, since Gray started advising the Eagles on how to perfect it a few months ago, it has become a massively divisive topic.
In total, in 53 out of the 60 times that the Eagles have run the ‘brotherly shove’ over the last year or so — they were using it before Gray got involved — they have converted a first down or a touchdown on it. That is a 93-per-cent success rate, which is much higher than any other play in football.
It is the closest American football fans have come to see an unstoppable play in the NFL.
Gray previously served as the Skills/Breakdown Coach for The South African National Team
In an exclusive interview with Mail Sport, Gray, who had been working with various NFL teams on tackling since 2016, revealed he had been brought into the Eagles by their legendary coach Jeff Stoutland over the summer to pass on his advice.
‘Jeff is one of the best offensive line coaches in the NFL, an absolute legend,’ said Gray. ‘He sent me a video of the quarterback sneak which the Eagles use a lot to gain an extra yard on the fourth down, and they are very good at it.
‘He brought me in to look at it and, for a morning, we ripped apart the move. I told a room of coaches it is very difficult to stop an organised mass of players. On the second day, I had a bit of work to do with their defensive group, then I came home.
‘It all kicked off when Jason Kelce of the Philadelphia Eagles, whose brother Travis plays for the Kansas City Chiefs, started talking on their podcast that has millions of listeners about ‘this Scottish guy’, and that was me. They kept talking about it over a few weeks and, all of a sudden, the whole of America has been trying to find out who the Scottish guy is!
‘Then a podcaster with half a million listeners picked it up and that took interest to another level. It has been the major talking point of the NFL.’
Gray recently signed a three-year contract extension to work with Toulon in France
Gray has worked with several NFL teams in the past but joined the Eagles over the summer
Gray isn’t giving anything away when it comes to revealing what little tricks of the trade he learned in rugby — first as a second row for Gala, then as a coach — have been passed on to the Eagles.
‘I can’t tell you what I actually said or did and never will, but I can say a lot of it is down to technique, personnel and tactics,’ he said. ‘I gave my opinion on what I would do defensively and how I would make it better in attack.
‘As the head coach of the Eagles said of the “brotherly shove”, everybody does it, it’s just we do it better than anybody else.
‘It was a trademark move for the Eagles before I got there but, like any good coaches, they wanted to get one per cent better which is why they brought me in.
‘American football is like human chess played at 100 miles an hour involving the biggest human beings on the planet and what I told them was a small part of their play book.’
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