Craig McRae has cheekily quipped that Leigh Matthews' famous rule about no unprotected sex in January "doesn't apply to coaches". The Collingwood coach experienced the best day of his life on Saturday, welcoming a new baby just hours before leading the Magpies to their first AFL flag in 13 years.
McRae revealed in his victory speech that wife Gabrielle had given birth to a baby girl called Maggie on the morning of the grand final. Discussing the situation on AFL 360 on Monday night, the 50-year-old revealed Maggie arrived exactly on her due date of September 30 - which caused some concerns considering it was the same date as the AFL grand final.
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Legendary coach Matthews, who was on hand to present the premiership cup to Brisbane if they had won, famously warned his players back in the day of “no unprotected sex in January”. It came about after Daniel Bradshaw didn't play in a final because his wife went into labour.
“When we got told the due date was September 30th – I had a quick look through the calendar and I’m going, ‘that’s grand final day’,” McRae said. “We deliberately didn’t talk about it. Kept putting it off, knowing there’d be so many moons have to align for that to work.
“I saw Leigh yesterday … But Leigh said [the no sex rule] didn’t apply to coaches so we’re OK. The reality is that I was always probably going to go coach the game. The odds of this happening, that we’re making a grand final and then the baby being born on the day was like, I don’t know the odds of that.”
McRae also said he wasn't meant to announce the baby news but got caught up in the euphoria of the moment. Cameras captured the nice moment he informed his Collingwood players of the news in the rooms before the game.
Fly and Maggie 😍🏆
It’s been a week for the Coach and his family! Show your love in the replies ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/O0QcK4zNDr
— Collingwood FC (@CollingwoodFC) October 2, 2023
“I’m such a private guy, and my family are really private … I said ‘I’m not telling anyone today that we’ve had the baby’. And then I started to go, ‘oh maybe I’ll tell the players’,” he admitted. “I told the players and there’s footage of me going a bit silly in the rooms.
"And then after the game I’ve told the world and she’s going, ‘what happened?’ There was a moment and (the baby news) did fill the room full of energy and a bit more joy. That was just a perfect opportunity to share it.”
McRae and Gabrielle were married last year. The coach has two other daughters - Charlie and Chelsea - from his first marriage.
Craig McRae calls for change amid AFL medal debate
Meanwhile, McRae has added to calls for the AFL to award premiership medals to more than just those who featured in the grand final, revealing he hasn't worn the Jock McHale Medal as the premiership coach because it doesn't reflect the work of the entire coaching staff. Taylor Adams and John Noble were in tears after full-time after missing the grand final through injury and selection respectively, while Dan McStay was another who didn't get to play because of injury.
Under AFL rules, only the 22 (or 23 if a sub is used) players who featured in the grand final receive a premiership medal. It marks a cruel twist for Adams, McStay and Noble, who played the majority of Collingwood's games this season.
"My view is I think they should get a medal," Mcrae said. "To what length, I'm not sure. I'll leave others to debate that. But I think if you've played a game, particularly, in the season - I think that should be a measure of it. Dan McStay, Taylor Adams, John Noble ... that cup's not there without those guys."
In regards to the Jock McHale Medal, the coach said: "They gave it to me on stage and I haven't worn it since because it doesn't represent all of our coaches." Collingwood chief executive Craig Kelly said on Monday that the club is looking at ways to recognise all the players, coaches and staff who played roles in the premiership triumph.
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