The Queen's 30-year-old granddaughter, Zara Phillips, who married English rugby captain Mike Tindall, 32, at the Stuart-built Canongate Kirk in Edinburgh in July, has a history of romancing rugby players.

She was previously linked to former All Blacks winger Caleb Ralph - seven years before she married ladies' man Tindall.

The Canterbury rugby player struck up a friendship with the young royal during the Rugby World Cup in Australia towards the end of 2003. The pair reportedly spent three days together after the All Blacks' last cup match.

The relationship quickly blossomed into a right royal romance and Ralph, now 34, spent that Christmas and New Year's period with Zara - but the lovers went to great lengths to keep their fling secret.


They welcomed in 2004 at a private party at her mother, Princess Anne's, Gatcombe Park estate and spent New Year's Day at Cheltenham Racecourse.

Friends of Phillips told the Sunday Mirror the pair had a "great time. They sang, drank and danced the night away".

Ralph reportedly snubbed a friend's wedding to fly 19,000km to Britain to see the young royal.

At that time, in January 2004, a romance between a young member of the royal family (13th in line to the British throne) and a tattooed rugby player from New Zealand made big headlines in the British press.

Rotorua-born Ralph admitted his friendship with Phillips had brought unwanted attention from the UK media. He fronted up about the relationship following a Canterbury Crusaders training camp in Hanmer Springs.

"I have been in England and I did see her," he said in a press conference.

Reporters asked if Phillips would stay with him if she visited New Zealand. Coy Caleb told the waiting media scrum he was unsure if she would stay with him. "I don't know ... I'd just have to wait and see."

Seven years later and Phillips is expected to visit New Zealand - but not to see Ralph.

She will be keen to have words with her wayward hubby, who made global headlines last week after his shameful shenanigans with a gorgeous blonde at a Queenstown bar.

But the question is: did Zara pick the wrong rugby player?