Alex Gray: NFL practice deal for ex-England rugby sevens captain

Alex Gray
Alex Gray led London Irish to the Premiership rugby sevens series title in 2012

Former England Sevens captain Alex Gray has joined the Atlanta Falcons, as one of three UK-based men to sign as overseas players for NFL practice squads on Thursday.

Gray, 26, previously played club rugby for Newcastle Falcons and London Irish.

Bath-born defensive end Alex Jenkins, 24, will train with the New Orleans Saints, while London-raised Efe Obada, 25, will join the Carolina Panthers.

They will be ineligible to play in the NFL in 2017, but will train full-time.

Their signings come after the NFL opened up an 11th practice squad place for franchises in the NFC South division - which was chosen at random - to be used on an overseas player, who will hope to earn a contract for 2018.

Before converting to American football, Gray signed for English Championship rugby outfit Yorkshire Carnegie for 2016-17, after an injury ruled him out of representing Great Britain in rugby sevens at Rio 2016.

He previously captained an England Under-20s side that included current senior national team stars George Ford, Owen Farrell, Elliot Daly, Jonathan Joseph and Mako Vunipola.

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From a supermarket to the Super Bowl?

Jenkins has previously played for Bath City Academy and the Bristol Aztecs before earning a scholarship to play college football at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas.

In April, the former supermarket worker revealed to BBC Points West that he took up the sport after watching Adam Sandler's 2005 movie 'The Longest Yard'.

"It feels too good to be true," he told the NFL website. "The fact that the Saints will be playing in London this season [at Wembley Stadium on 1 October] makes it even more exciting for me."

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