Standing in a London bar following South Africa’s narrow loss to New Zealand in the World Cup semi-final, Brett Riley heard a couple issue a plea for tickets for the following weekend’s final.
Riley, from Durban, initially didn’t want to sell his tickets – but upon hearing that the couple were on their honeymoon – decided that he would gift them to Graham Paniora and Moe Lewin.
Riley told News24.com about his gesture.
I had tickets to the final and after watching the semis and our disappointing loss I was standing at the bar with all my buddies. I heard the couple behind me ask if anyone had tickets to the final for sale and I said I had a pair, but I didn’t want to sell them.
They told me that they were on their honeymoon and I said they could have my tickets. He [Paniora] offered to pay me for them but I didn’t want anything. For them it was huge and I knew how phenomenal it would have been, I gave him the tickets.
I met him on Friday night to hand the tickets over and they were overflowing with joy. It meant to the world to them to see the best World Cup final, maybe in history. To pay for tickets to the game at £600 each may have been a little out of their reach.
If South Africa had got into the final I probably would have gone and I think because they are Kiwis I know it would mean as much to them as it would to me.
The two All Blacks fans were understandably overjoyed.
Prior to the final, Paniora relayed his astonishment to The New Zealand Herald.
It was an incredible gesture and he told me it was from a Bok to a Kiwi, from a rugby man to a rugby man. I almost burst into tears. Our honeymoon has been fantastic but this really has been the icing on the cake.