Meet the SA man who gave away his Rugby World Cup final tickets

Durban - A South African man who gave Rugby World Cup final tickets worth R25 000 to a New Zealand couple said he knew they would have a phenomenal time.

The newlywed Kiwi couple, who were on their honeymoon in the UK, could not believe his generosity, he told News24 in an interview.

While mourning the Springboks' loss to New Zealand in a London pub, former Pietermaritzburg resident Brett Riley palmed off his tickets to the final, wanting nothing in return.

His kind act earned him two new friends, and speaking exclusively to News24, Riley said he wanted nothing more than that.

The story of his generosity first ran in a New Zealand newspaper on Monday, and News24 tracked him down after the All Blacks beat Australia in an epic clash.

- Read more: Top 10 Rugby World Cup moments

“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,” he said.

Striking up beer fuelled conversation; Riley found out that the couple, Graham Paniora and Moe Lewin, had married weeks before.

“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.”

‘It meant the world to them’

Riley and the two exchanged details and arranged to meet a week later to hand over the coveted 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.”

Riley said that had the Springboks made it to the final he would have been more reluctant to loosen his grip on the tickets.

“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,” he added.

Riley has lived in the United Kingdom for 14 years.

- See Sport24's Rugby World Cup section

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