Bristol Bears captain Steven Luatua has spoken of his gratitude after being allowed to miss October’s Challenge Cup final win, to see his daughter’s birth.
Former All Black Luatua’s partner gave birth about three hours before the Bears kicked off the final in France.
A “jet was ready” for the 29-year-old forward to fly out to the game at the last minute if he had decided to play.
“Pat [Lam]’s message was pretty simple: The only job you have got today is to be a Dad,” Luatua told BBC Points West.
“I was really emotional, grateful and fortunate that they allowed me to be there.
“If the baby had come early, I could have gone across [to France]. They had a jet ready to go. Steve Lansdown and Pat gave me the option to still play.
“I had my passport ready to go. All in all, I’m very grateful.”
Luatua watched on via a laptop from St Michael’s Hospital in Bristol, “fist-pumping” in celebration as his team-mates beat Toulon 32-19.
The Bears will get their 2020-21 Premiership campaign under way at Wasps on Sunday.