By Patrice Dougan
Former All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw has announced his engagement to long-time girlfriend Gemma Flynn.
Breaking the news on his Facebook page tonight, McCaw revealed he had spent the new year celebrating his engagement to the Black Stick.
“Happy new year to everyone. I’ve had a fantastic start to 2016 and feel very lucky. Gemma said ‘yes’! It’s been great celebrating our engagement with friends and family in sunny central Otago. Here’s to a great year ahead.”
The post was accompanied by two photographs. One shows the Rugby World Cup-winning captain and Flynn together with an arm around each other and glasses of champagne in hand – and a big sparkler shining on the 25-year-old hockey player’s wedding finger.
Dressed in a strappy, nude v-neck dress, and McCaw, 35, in cargo pants and a black T-shirt, the pair look happy as they pose for the camera.
A second image of the pair shows them sitting around a restaurant table with their family celebrating the news.
The post quickly hit more than 56,000 likes, with hundreds of comments, including many lamenting McCaw was now “taken”.
“My 83-year-old mother is going to be devastated Richie. Congrats to you both,” said Wendy Mackay.
“There will be a lot of sad woman out there after seeing this I am sure!!! Congrats you two,” wrote Aimee Lee Madden.
Others pointed out it wasn’t just the former All Black who had broken hearts around the country.
“Heartbroken woman?? I’m thinking there isn’t to many Kiwi men happy about this either [sic],” said Natalie Duley.
No other details of the engagement have been revealed, and neither McCaw or his management could not be contacted tonight.
Flynn’s dad, Rob, said the family did not want to comment at this time.
McCaw’s father, Don, also declined to comment, saying the engagement was “their business”.
He would leave it to his son to reveal the details of his proposal, and whether or not he went down on one knee, Mr McCaw said.
For now, those details will be kept under wraps.
The photograph of the couple’s families celebrating in a restaurant appears to have been taken at The Landing, in Wanaka.
The restaurant confirmed the star couple had dined there in recent weeks.
However, staff were not let in on the secret engagement.
“They have been in for dinner recently, but they didn’t say anything about engagements or anything like that,” owner Kamel Toor said tonight.
The dinner had been within the last couple of weeks, she said.
It was “really cool”, McCaw had posted the photograph – which includes three chefs in the background photobombing from the kitchen.
Ms Toor could not remember if Flynn was wearing her engagement ring at the time, but said there was “nothing that gave it away”.
“They didn’t make it obvious while they were here,” she said.
Her husband and co-owner Mathew Anstey, who served McCaw, Flynn and their families, said the 10-strong group was “lovely”.
While no Champagne or bubbles were ordered, the group “had some lovely wines and some beers, and enjoyed a few courses, and then went on their merry way”.
“It seemed like a very cordial family gathering,” Mr Anstey said.
“They looked like they were very comfortable. They drank some really good Central [Otago] pinot noir, and they just seemed chilled, and really comfortable.
“They did not give away the appearance of having something specific to celebrate, he said, describing it as relaxed.
“They just wanted dinner, so we had no suspicion at all [of the engagement].
“Richie McCaw is a proper gentleman. You know sometimes when you meet someone and you’re just like, ‘why can’t I be more like that?’,” he laughed.
“He was lovely, they were all lovely.”
He added: “I couldn’t believe it, he [McCaw] was so low-key, a very down-to-earth gentleman actually, it’s quite remarkable.”
The Black Stick and former All Black have been dating since 2012. It was revealed in January 2013 the pair had been dating for about six months.
Speculation has been building about an engagement for some time.The pair moved in together in late 2014, first sparking rumours of wedding bells.
Then at the end of last year, McCaw told One News it was up to Flynn when they would start thinking about becoming parents as “she was the one still competing”.
Yesterday, Flynn posted a photograph to Instagram of her and McCaw at a friend’s wedding in Tuakau, with the caption: “Happiness is contagious.”
Flynn bought McCaw a $1000 Working Style jacket after his 100th match as test captain against Wales in November 2014.
The jacket is embroidered: “100th test as captain. Love Gemma.”