Real Life

Rubgy lovers’ rapid-fire romance

Many people are adamant they’ve experienced love at first sight. For this newlywed couple, it was love at first type.

It took a mere 45 days for Napier woman Gina Coley and Welshman Darren Prosser to fall in love and become engaged – despite living on opposite sides of the world and never laying eyes on each other – after meeting on Facebook on a Rugby World Cup fan site.

Desperate to marry on New Year’s Eve, the pair then rushed to organise their big day, tying the knot in front of family and friends in Napier 69 days after the proposal and only two weeks after meeting each other in person for the first time.

Despite the speed of their whirlwind romance, Darren and Gina, who is now Gina Prosser, say they have no doubt that they’ve each found “the one”. “I just knew,” says Gina. “We started messaging and then after a few days we were talking on the phone and it all went from there.”

“I got quite emotional over those messages,” adds Darren. “I knew I loved her more than anything else in the world. I don’t usually cry and when I was crying over these messages, I knew she was the one for me.”

“So we thought, ‘Bugger it. Why wait? Let’s just do it,’” continues Gina. “We really liked the idea of getting married on New Year’s Eve and didn’t want to wait for another 12 months.”

Gina says there was an instant attraction to Darren after she “liked” a comment he left on a rugby fan page. “These English guys were mocking the haka on this Facebook page and Darren jumped in and defended the Kiwis. I liked what he said,” explains Gina.

From there, the couple exchanged more than 11,000 Facebook messages and hundreds of phone calls, before Darren rang Gina during the Rugby World Cup final to propose. “He told me he was down on one knee when he was doing it, even though I couldn’t see,” says Gina, smiling.

After the final whistle had blown, Darren rang back to say he’d booked his flights to New Zealand. “It was my first passport and my first time flying, so there were lots of firsts for me. I didn’t expect something like this to happen to me,” he admits. “But me. I’m a totally traditional kind of guy.

I’ve always known from the day I got married it would be for life. No divorce. No matter what happens, the good and the bad, you go through it together and come out the other end stronger.”

Even though Darren and Gina astonished their friends and family with the speed of their relationship, Gina says they have all been encouraging. “Everyone’s been really good and supportive.

Of course, now he’s here, they all get it when they see us together. “My dad was the last to know because Darren wanted to ask him first, and he didn’t arrive until December 14.” Although they admit they rushed to the altar, the newlyweds say their union is as traditional as they come.

“We met in the proper way. There was nothing physical in the beginning – we fell in love over words,” explains Darren. “All of the physical stuff came later.”

“It was just talking and getting to know each other. It was amazing,” adds Gina. Despite an extremely tight timeline – and a car accident on Darren’s first night in the country – Gina managed to organise the entire wedding in four weeks without a single hitch, a marvel she attributes to fate.

“It’s just meant to be. We crashed on the way back from the airport when I picked him up and the car was written off, but we didn’t have a scratch. Everything has just fallen into place. It has been bizarre.

“Our celebrant actually met her husband in a really similar way eight years ago, so she totally understood where we were coming from.” After their speedy courtship, the couple has settled down in Napier to enjoy married life.

“We feel like we have been married forever,” says Darren. “But we do owe our marriage to the Rugby World Cup. I don’t know if we would have met otherwise,” Gina says. Because Darren’s family couldn’t make it to New Zealand for the wedding, the pair are planning a trip to Wales in 2015.

“We’ll have to save for it and Darren’s not working at the moment because he’s waiting for a work visa, so it’ll have to wait for a while,” says Gina. “But the next Rugby World Cup is in 2015 in the UK, so it seems appropriate!”

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