BRITISH & Irish Lions Head Coach Warren Gatland gave two rugby fans the shock of their lives when he delivered a ‘team talk’ live at their wedding in Shropshire.
Dubliner Rebecca Seery met Shropshire native Harry Johnston at the third test of 2013’s Lions tour in Sydney, Australia.
Warren Gatland’s men inspired a spectacular victory to seal a series triumph that night, but it wasn’t the only event that would live long in memory.
As Ireland and England fans, Rebecca and Harry would have been ardent adversaries at any other game, but on that chilly evening in Sydney they were united as British and Irish Lions – and they’ve never looked back.
Fast forward three years and Warren Gatland was again on hand to provide a bit of magic.
“How brilliant is that for an Irish woman and an Englishman to meet on a Lions Tour and end up getting married?” said the 53-year-old. “I understand you met in 2013 at the third Test. For me it was an incredibly special day and obviously it was for you too.
“I just want to wish you all the best for a happy and long life together and hope you have a really special day.”
Gatland’s message to the newlyweds was played during the best man’s speech at the couple’s reception – to the complete surprise of them both.
“My initial reaction was pure shock,” said Rebecca. “And then I got a bit teary as the Lions game played such a significant part in our relationship.
“To have it broadcast for our family and friends really brought it home what a chance encounter we had on that day – then to be watching it back on our wedding day made it all so real.”
Rebecca reminisced over their encounter as the only two Lions fans in a sea of green-and-gold-clad Wallabies supporters.
“To my right were some very boisterous Aussies and I thought ‘oh no, I’m going to be on my own here’,” said Rebecca. “Then this Englishman sat next to me with the same red Lions scarf on as me.”
Harry added: “We were in with the Aussie fans and sitting next to me was a pretty Irish girl who I got chatting to – and we kept talking.
“We were just united in happiness as the Lions kept on scoring tries.”