Byron Kelleher

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Byron Kelleher
B Keller.jpg
Birth name Byron Terrance Kelleher
Date of birth (1976-12-03) 3 December 1976 (age 41)
Place of birth Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand
Height 1.75 m (5 ft 9 in)
Weight 95 kg (14 st 13 lb)
School Otago Boys High School
Occupation(s) Professional Rugby Union Footballer
Rugby union career
Position(s) Half back
All Black No. 983
Senior career
Years Team Apps (Points)
Stade Français
97 (60)
Correct as of 16 August 2011
Provincial / State sides
Years Team Apps (Points)
Super Rugby
Years Team Apps (Points)
National team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
1999–2007 New Zealand 57 (40)

Byron Terrance Kelleher (born 3 December 1976 in Dunedin, New Zealand) is a former rugby union scrum-half who last played for Stade Français in the French Top 14 before retiring in 2012 and has played 57 tests for the All Blacks.

Rugby career[edit]

He was educated at Otago Boys' High School, and originally played for Otago in the NPC and the Highlanders in the Super 14. He moved north in 2004 to play for Waikato and the Chiefs. He is 1.75m tall and weighs 95 kg. He was New Zealand's Super 12 Player of the Year in 1999.

Kelleher scoring a try for Toulouse against Biarritz

Kelleher had signed a contract to play for Agen in the Top 14 after the 2007 Rugby World Cup;[1] however, the club's relegation to the second-level Rugby Pro D2 after the 2006–07 Top 14 season caused the contract to be cancelled. Kelleher went on to sign with traditional Top 14 powers Toulouse, effective with the end of the Rugby World Cup.

He won the "Bouclier de Brennus" (the French Rugby Union Title) in the 2007–08 Top 14 season with Stade Toulousain, and was elected by the Top 14 players as the season's best player.

In 2010, he was selected in the French Barbarians squad to play Tonga on 26 November.

He was known as an unpredictable and unorthodox halfback, with his speed and strength, sometimes preferring to run with the ball and make line-breaks rather than passing the ball after rucks and mauls.

After his sports retirement, he became an international ambassador for Airbus, a rugby consultant for Sky Sports, acquired half of the shares of Evangelina, a bar-restaurant in Toulouse, opened a consulting company specialised in French lifestyle and rugby and volunteered for a regional French NGO called "L'Ombre du Baobab" to help children in Sumba island,.[2][3]

Personal life[edit]

In December 2004, Kelleher met American porn-star Ashley Spalding better known as Kaylani Lei. They reportedly crossed paths in a "hedonism resort" in Jamaica[4] then dated and lived together until they split in June 2006.[5] British newspaper The Independent called them "a raunchy Antipodean answer to Posh and Becks",[6] referring to the high-profile relationship of football player David Beckham and his wife ex-Spice Girl Victoria.

In 2009, Kelleher was dating Julie Novès, 22-year-old at the time and daughter of Toulouse manager Guy Novès while he was involved in a car crash and assaulted another driver. The media thought involving his coach's daughter in a car accident would get him in further troubles.[7]

A close friend of the Prince and Princess of Monaco.,[8] he was one of the guests at the couple's wedding in July 2011.[9] The press suspected he was romantically involved with the Princess and New Zealand beer brand Tui jokingly created billboards referencing to the rumour,.[10][11]

In September 2014, Kelleher became engaged to 28-year-old French-Italian model Lilly de Vellis.[12] The couple settled down in Toulouse where Kelleher started a new business.[13]


Kelleher has been involved in several incidents. In October 2009, he was charged for driving under the influence of alcohol and assault. On 11 September, he was with his then-girlfriend Julie Novès, daughter of Toulouse coach, drove drunk, crashed his car into a Porsche, fled the scene, assaulted another driver and got arrested by the French police. He received a two-month suspended jail term and was fined on this occasion,.[14][15] He was arrested again in October 2013 for driving on the wrong side of the road while four times over the legal alcohol limit,.[15][16] In June 2016, he was arrested for destruction and domestic violence. After vandalising a door and attacking a woman he was with, he was taken to a police station and placed in a drunk tank. The woman refused to press charged for fear of reprisals according to the French press. Kelleher was ultimately convicted over the matter in early March 2017 and received a fine, with the prosecutor stating that the "violence was not colossal, but strongly existed".[17]

In September 2015, Byron Kelleher opened a rugby-themed bar in Toulouse named The Haka Corner. Maori motives were used as promotional material and French fans were encouraged to film themselves doing a haka through a Facebook page. In New Zealand, Maori Party leader Te Ururoa Flavell and its predecessor Sir Pita Sharples criticized the use of the Maori culture for business and personal gain. They also deemed the association of Maori culture with alcohol unacceptable. They stressed that Kelleher was not a Maori and therefore should not organize such events,.[18][19] The Haka Corner later issued a statement claiming the haka challenge was organized to help "hospitalized children" and was not a promotional tool for the bar. They also said the bar would help French people discover New Zealand culture.[18] Byron Kelleher told a French newspaper that Maori leaders "picked up the wrong fight" in opposing his haka challenge.[20] New Zealand Rugby also asked for an explanation when they learned The Haka Corner sold official Classic All Blacks clothing altered to include branding for the bar. They declared the All Blacks brand was protected by trademark laws and that a licence was necessary to use it.[21] In September 2016, it was reported Byron Kelleher had sold its shares of the Evangelina, its Toulouse-based restaurant, and of The Haka Corner. Journalists speculated that this was partly related to the various controversies he was linked to.[22]


  1. ^ Cain, Nick (29 April 2007). "Player exodus threatens world order". The Sunday Times. London. Retrieved 30 April 2007. 
  2. ^ "Byron Kelleher revient aux affaires, en ambassadeur... du Sud-Ouest". La depeche. La Depeche. 7 October 2014. Retrieved 26 December 2014. 
  3. ^ "La nouvelle vie toulousaine de Byron Kelleher" (in French). La Depeche. 25 September 2014. Retrieved 25 December 2014. 
  4. ^ "What's the goss?". TVNZ. 24 August 2005. Retrieved 25 December 2014. 
  5. ^ "Details emerge of former All Black's drunken crash". The New Zealand Herald. 23 September 2009. Retrieved 25 December 2014. 
  6. ^ "Byron Kelleher: 'We're the best in the world – and now we have to prove it'". The Independent. 5 November 2006. Retrieved 25 December 2014. 
  7. ^ "Contrite Byron: 'I'm sorry'". The New Zealand Herald. 20 September 2009. Retrieved 25 December 2014. 
  8. ^ "Le prince Albert évoque l'importance du circuit de Monaco en F1 (interview)" (in French). Retrieved 1 December 2013. 
  9. ^ "Byron Kelleher Pictures – Monaco Royal Wedding – The Religious Wedding Ceremony". Zimbio. Retrieved 1 December 2013. 
  10. ^ "The princess and the ex-All Black". New Zealand Women's Weekly. 18 May 2013. Retrieved 25 December 2014. 
  11. ^ "Kelleher rumoured to romance princess". Retrieved 25 December 2014. 
  12. ^ "Kelleher to wed model". The New Zealand Herald. 5 October 2014. Retrieved 25 December 2014. 
  13. ^ "La nouvelle vie toulousaine de Byron Kelleher". La Depeche (in French). 25 September 2014. Retrieved 25 December 2014. 
  14. ^ "Former All Black gets suspended jail term". 2009-10-29. Retrieved 2016-10-23. 
  15. ^ a b "Kelleher caught drink-driving in France - report". Otago Daily Times Online News. 2013-12-10. Retrieved 2016-10-23. 
  16. ^ "Byron Kelleher revient aux affaires, en ambassadeur... du Sud-Ouest". La Depeche (in French). 7 October 2014. Retrieved 25 December 2014. 
  17. ^ "Former All Black Byron Kelleher fined for domestic assault". Retrieved 2017-03-03. 
  18. ^ a b "Former All Black's rugby pub 'an insult to Maori culture'". New Zealand Herald. 2015-08-30. ISSN 1170-0777. Retrieved 2016-10-23. 
  19. ^ "Haka bar in France proves unpopular". Newshub. 2015-08-30. Retrieved 2016-10-23. 
  20. ^ "Byron Kelleher : "Fier de continuer ma vie à Toulouse"". Retrieved 2016-10-23. 
  21. ^ "Ex-All Black's wardrobe blunder". New Zealand Herald. 2016-01-10. ISSN 1170-0777. Retrieved 2016-10-23. 
  22. ^ "Haka Corner  : Byron Kelleher mis sur la touche". Retrieved 2016-10-23. 

External links[edit]