31 July 2014
Welsh Rugby Union coach and Hamiltonian Warren Gatland couldn't keep the smile from his face today as he watched the Hamilton Boys' High School 1st XV perform the school haka.
But instead of being on the rugby field, he was in the Hamilton City Council chamber, where he had just been awarded an honorary city ambassadorship, becoming the second person to have received the award. Mr Gatland received the inscribed medallion at an extraordinary council meeting.
The award recognises his long career which has taken him from the sports fields at Hamilton Boys' High School to his current role as coach of the Welsh rugby team. It is Mr Gatland's second accolade of the year - he was made an OBE in the British Queen's Birthday Honours list in June for his services to rugby.
The haka was especially poignant for Mr Gatland, whose son Bryn was in the Hamilton Boys' High School 1st XV last year and kicked the winning drop goal at the end of the National Secondary Schools final to win the game against St Kentigern College in Auckland by 12-10.
Mr Gatland is also an old boy of the school and captained the 1st XV. He has been back at the school frequently over the past few years to assist the team at training sessions.
Hamilton Mayor Julie Hardaker told Mr Gatland that the ambassadorship is recognition of the outstanding contribution he has made to the world of rugby.
"That includes wearing the Hamilton Boys' High School jersey, the red yellow and black jersey of Waikato for 140 games and the famous black jersey for 17 games as an All Black," she said. "You have continued to make your mark on the rugby world stage, firstly as coach for Ireland and since 2007 as coach for Wales, making you their longest serving national coach. And all this while still maintaining a strong link to Hamilton and supporting our city on the international stage."
View the tribute to Warren Gatland from Welsh Rugby Union Chairman David Pickering.
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