Kirsty Wynn is a senior reporter at the Herald on Sunday.

Welsh Kiwi back again to his long distance love

The Gatlands - (from left) Trudi, Warren, Bryn and Gabby - support Wales "100 per cent all the way". Photo / Facebook
The Gatlands - (from left) Trudi, Warren, Bryn and Gabby - support Wales "100 per cent all the way". Photo / Facebook

When Wales rugby coach Warren Gatland suffered horrific leg injuries after a fall at his family's holiday home, friends joked wife Trudi had pushed him - just to spend a bit more time with her husband.

The 10m fall from a ladder was completely accidental of course, but the surgery to repair two shattered heels - and a lengthy rehab period - meant the Gatlands had a couple of rare precious months together.

The couple, married for 27 years, have the ultimate long-distance relationship, with Gatland clocking up his eighth year in Wales where he coaches its national rugby team and Mrs Gatland keeping the home fires burning in New Zealand with their children Bryn, 21, and Gabby, 22.

Gatland was reunited with his family this week when he flew in to New Zealand in preparation for Wales' three-test series against the All Blacks. He arrived just in time to see his son play rugby for North Harbour against Northland on Wednesday, where Bryn scored a try.

"Whenever we see each other we really do make the most of it," Mrs Gatland told the Herald on Sunday. "He really wanted to see Bryn play and we did that [on Wednesday]. It really is quality time."

Despite more than 18,000km between the family home in Hamilton and Gatland's post in Wales the family see each other around four times a year, with holidays in Wales or when Gatland's work brings him closer to home.

The broken heels four years ago added a couple of months on to his New Zealand trip because of surgery and rehabilitation. Gatland was cleaning some windows at the family bach in Waihi when he fell and landed hard on his feet.

"We did have friends joke and accuse me of pushing him so I could have him here longer but it was an accident of course," Mrs Gatland said.

Warren Gatland has previously described each reunion with his wife as "a honeymoon" because they make each trip a special occasion. And his wife agrees.

"When I am with him I am on holiday and when he is here he fits in with us so we do have really nice quality time."

The couple never planned to live apart for so long.

But Gatland's initial four-year contract to coach Wales came at a time Bryn and Gabby were settled at school and doing well at sports and it was decided Mrs Gatland and the children would stay.

Whenever we see each other we really do make the most of it.
Trudi Gatland

Gatland has now been away for eight years and the situation is unlikely to change, with Bryn at the start of a two-year contract with North Harbour rugby and Gabby finishing a law degree at Waikato University. Mrs Gatland has also settled into work selling real estate through Bayleys Hamilton.

Gatland's Welsh contract runs until 2018.

"I often compare it to husbands and wives in the forces, when one of the couple is away for long stretches. There are also people who commute or have highly powered careers who might not see each other a lot on a daily basis," said Mrs Gatland.

"In a lot of ways we are very lucky and the times we have are good."

The Gatlands will be together at the upcoming All Blacks v Wales tests and Mrs Gatland said there was no question as to who they support.

It's Wales all the way - even when they are up against the All Blacks.

"It is Warren's career, it's his passion," she said.

"He is 100 per cent dedicated to us and we are to him. We are with him 100 per cent all the way."

Mrs Gatland travels to Wales when the national team are in action to support Warren and his charges.

"You get to know the players, their families and you learn to sing their anthem. It is the whole package and it's important that we are 100 per cent with them."

Warren Gatland played 17 matches for the All Blacks between 1988-91. Wales will be seeking their first test win over the All Blacks since 1953 while on tour in New Zealand.

The first test will be played at Eden Park next Saturday night.

- NZ Herald

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