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Wales, and British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland has been awarded an OBE in the Queens Queen’s birthday honours.
Gatland is currently on tour with Wales in South Africa where they lost the opening test of two matches 38-16 but he said that being honoured was a massive honourt.
“I was surprised really,” said Gatland on the WRU site.
“It’s a massive honour and I’m absolutely over the moon to be asked to receive that. It’s great and I’m very proud and sort of humbled.
“I told my wife and that’s been it really. It’s been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. As a Kiwi I know they did their Queen’s birthday honours list a couple of weeks ago and that has a real New Zealand flavour. To receive something in the UK as a Kiwi is pretty special.
“I have been to Buckingham Palace with the All Blacks. I’ve been lucky enough to experience that and maybe there will be another opportunity to do that.
“I don’t know whether the palace had sent some correspondence to the wrong address because they ended up contacting the union and there was a bit of panic because they thought I had just ignored it. I replied and said ‘I’m absolutely thrilled to receive that and it would be a massive honour.
“It’s nice to be recognised, not just for yourself. There are a heck of a lot of other people that have given me the opportunity to be recognised in terms of the other coaches and the players I’ve been involved with as well. The support from the union and the people of Wales have made my time really enjoyable. It’s easy and it feels very much home at the moment. It’s like a second New Zealand.
“A few mates of mine have given me a hard time about getting an honorary doctorate so I’ll probably get a bit of a ribbing about this one too.”
WRU Group Chief Executive, Roger Lewis, said,”This is a well-deserved honour for Warren after his incredible achievements, especially in recent years as Head Coach of Wales and a victorious British and Irish Lions team.
“He is a credit to the game of rugby and a true symbol of the values we want all our players, coaches, volunteers and followers to live up to.
“Warren is a modest man, but I know he is extremely proud at being honoured and recognised in this way.”
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