AN ex-Giants star who is one of the world’s most recognised rugby players has changed his name after getting married.
Robbie Paul is now Robbie Hunter-Paul after incorporating bride Natalie Hunter’s surname.
The couple live in Mirfield and Natalie used to teach at Newsome High School but is now doing a Masters degree in social work at Salford University.
The couple tied the knot on December 17 in Auckland, New Zealand, at a ceremony attended by many of the world’s greatest rugby players.
Robbie, 34, explained: “I am really excited about playing my final season in rugby league with Leigh Centurions under my new married name of Robert Hunter-Paul or Robbie Hunter-Paul.
“When Natalie and I first spoke about marriage we discussed the idea of sharing our names and quickly realised that to share our lives together does not mean sacrifice but means growth so I guess the addition of each others’ surname to our own makes us stronger for it.
“People have asked me if this was a tough decision for me to make and I can honestly reply that it was not. She is an extremely proud, strong and individualistic woman and there was never a doubt about the concept of sharing names.
“I’m well aware that this goes against tradition. I have already encountered some flack for going down this route – all in jest – but while I am a big believer in tradition, we should always be prepared for innovation and development and if that means breaking certain traditions to improve a situation then so be it.
“I am the type of person who is always open to new ideas. It was the way I was nurtured to think by my family and the many mentors I have embraced throughout my life.
“I have actually been surprised by the amount of interest a name change can create but the truth of the matter is I have not lost a thing but have gained a wonderful wife,” added Robbie who combines a busy life as a professional rugby player with work for BBC Sport. He is currently in his third and final year of a degree in sports marketing and public relations at Huddersfield University and also acts as an ambassador for the Northern Rail Cup competition.
Natalie said: “When I suggested to Rob that we share names I had all my feminist arguments prepared. When he said he agreed it was a good idea I knew, without a doubt, that I had made a brilliant decision when I said ‘yes’ to him. Our relationship has been based on mutual respect and equality from day one so sharing our names is a concrete way of telling each other we are in this together, for life.
“I am proud to take Rob’s name because it came from the person I love and admire most, so when it comes to breaking with tradition, I think some actions mean a lot more than words.”
Robbie is not the first high profile Huddersfield sportsman to take his wife’s name.
Gary Taylor-Fletcher took his wife, Viv’s, surname of Taylor when they married in 1994.
He now plays for Blackpool – scoring the team’s first ever Premiership goal last August in a 4-0 win over Wigan Athletic.
Other double-barreled sportsmen
Shaun Wright-Phillips: Man City and England footballer. The adopted son of Ian Wright and the half-brother of fellow pro Bradley Wright-Phillips.
Rachael Heyhoe-Flint, OBE: Best known female cricketer in England. A member of the English women’s cricket team from 1960 to 1982.
Forbes Ernest Phillipson-Masters: 1950s footballer who played for Southampton, Exeter City, Bournemouth, Luton Town, Plymouth Argyle and Bristol City.
Christopher Gerald Bart-Williams: Played in defence or midfield for Sheffield Wednesday and Nottingham Forest in the 1990s.
Nigel Shola Andre Reo-Coker: (Born 1984) is a midfielder, currently playing for Aston Villa where he is the vice-captain.