Bevan Hurley

Bevan Hurley is the Herald on Sunday chief reporter.

Hoani's happy ending

Hoani and Michelle  on their wedding day. Photo / Supplied
Hoani and Michelle on their wedding day. Photo / Supplied

Hoani Macdonald's life-and-death battle after suffering a cardiac arrest on the rugby field earned him a special place in the hearts of rugby fans across New Zealand.

And last month, MacDonald celebrated his recovery in the best way possible, by marrying his high school sweetheart Michelle Notman.

Notman, a registered nurse, said the ceremony at Olivers hotel in the Central Otago town of Clyde was an intimate affair in front of close family and friends.

"It was special to have our little boys Iwi and Kade standing up there beside their Dad,'' said Notman.

"The day was very relaxed but magic, filled with lots of love and laughter. We shared it with our family and close friends.''

About 100 people attended the wedding and the guests were a who's who of Southland sport, where MacDonald was a mainstay of the Southland Stags rugby team.

Former Silver Fern Donna Wilkins, nee Loffhagen, was one of the bridesmaids.

MacDonald, 34, collapsed while playing a ITM Cup semifinal match for Southland against Counties-Manukau last October. But his recovery continues to progress well. He still isn't able to drive, and will never play rugby again, but is able to play basketball and ride his bike.

And last week he started work in a full-time marketing and coaching role for Rugby Southland.

MacDonald attended the Wellington Sevens tournament, and said he was progressing well.

He has been in a relationship with Notman, a registered nurse, since they were teenagers.

- Herald on Sunday

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