British Lions coach Warren Gatland is already endearing himself to the New Zealand public ahead of next year's tour, as he gave up an airplane seat in business class to a grandmother so she could join her daughter and baby granddaughter.

Gatland, the former All Black hooker who now coaches the Welsh national side, was flying from Auckland to Sydney seated a row ahead of Dennis Shepherd.

Shepherd took to Facebook to share the coach's selfless gesture.

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What a gentleman.
I was flying from Auckland to Sydney yesterday and Warren Gatland the Welsh and British Lions coach was sitting in business class, in the row in front of me. A mother with small baby arrived and was seated next to him, she was accompanied by her mother(the grandmother) who was seated way back in the plane. Warren swoped his business class seat for a seat in the back of the plane so the two could travel together. Its really nice that gentleman still exist. I...f you see this man buy him a beer. And please share the hell out of this post.

Nice to see a bit of recognition, for a kind deed. This has taken on a life of its own. I received a message saying that someone who knows the family had spoken to his wife and they were appreciative of the post. Nice touch. Now share the post and let the man be a drunkard by the time the lions get to New Zealand next year.

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"What a gentleman," Shepherd wrote.

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"Warren [swapped] his business class seat for a seat in the back of the plane so the two could travel together. It's really nice that [gentlemen] still exist.

"If you see this man buy him a beer," he added.

The post has been liked more than 1400 times, and has more than 590 shares.

The Welsh Rugby Union confirmed the story was true in a tweet.


"He said he knows how hard it is travelling with children," the WRU tweeted.

Gatland's wife Trudy and kids Gabby and Bryn remained in New Zealand while he coached Wales, with Bryn turning out for North Harbour in this year's Mitre 10 Cup.