Welsh rugby ace Andy Powell ‘given one last chance’ by his long-suffering wife Natasha Gascoine
After a catalogue of errors, Powell has moved in with Natasha at her parents’ £500,000 home, and has now signed for the Newport Gwent Dragons
Neil Atkinson / Daily MirrorChances: Andy Powell and Natasha Gascoine
The bride had arranged the wedding of her dreams.
A church ceremony at home followed by a £30,000 bash with family and friends flying out to a five-star Spanish hotel.
But when Natasha Gascoine married Welsh rugby star Andy Powell two uninvited guests turned up – two Spanish police officers called by guards who had seen the groom drunkenly grabbing his bride.
This was just a taste of the stormy relationship to come.
The couple make lurid headlines in March when Natasha vandalised Andy’s car and home. She had just heard claims he had cheated on her.
She also put his rugby memorabilia on eBay along with her wedding dress, posted Andy’s sexually explicit messages on Twitter and burned his clothes.
And, heartbreakingly, a few days later Natasha miscarried for a third time.
Back then it seemed there was no hope for theIR relationship.
But incredibly the couple are back together and Natasha, 25, is 16 weeks’ pregnant.
She says she decided to give her husband one last chance after he begged her for the opportunity to show he could be a loving husband and father.
He has moved in with Natasha at her parents’ £500,000 home in a pretty village near Usk, Monmouthshire, and has now signed for the Newport Gwent Dragons.
Action ImagesAndy PowellInternational: Andy Powell in action for Wales
Natasha says: “Andy has turned his life around since he signed for the Dragons.
“He told me he wanted to make a go of things and get his life back on track.
“He is getting really involved with the baby and there’s no stress. It is really good and nice and calm at the moment.
“He has been very apologetic.
“I don’t know whether it is because I am pregnant or something clicked in his mind that he couldn’t go on like he was.
“I am cooking all his meals and making sure he is eating healthily, whereas before he was just having takeaways.”
The couple’s tempestuous relationship is just two years old but has suffered more storms than a 30-year marriage.
Before meeting Andy, Natasha had already dated Dragons star Lewis Evans.
But they decided they were too young for a serious relationship and split in 2012.
Five months later her sister Nadia decided Andy, 32, would inject a bit of excitement into Natasha’s life and set up a date.
The former British Lions star had a reputation as a bad boy.
In 2010 he was arrested on the M4 in a golf buggy after Wales beat Scotland.
Trainee accountant Natasha says of their first date: “It was like I’d known him for years. I didn’t think I would have much in common with him.
“He was seven years older than me so I was apprehensive.
“I didn’t want to jump in too quickly but I couldn’t help it because it was so easy and he was lovely.”
Three months later he proposed in a hot-air balloon over the Welsh countryside and everything seemed perfect.
Andy was then playing for Sale Sharks and Natasha moved into his Manchester apartment.
But on New Year’s Eve last year she had a rude awakening. “We went out for drinks with friends,” she says.
“We got back and he just flipped – it was like flicking a switch.
Natasha GascoineHope: A picture from the couple’s wedding in 2013
“He’d been so happy but when he got home he wanted food and there was none.
“He punched his fist into the walls because he blamed me for the lack of food. I was so scared I ran into the bathroom and locked myself in.
“That was the first time I saw his dark side.
“It was such a shock, I couldn’t stop crying. In the morning I woke up in the bathtub and when I came out and there was blood all down his knuckles and hands and all these holes in the walls.
“I told him I couldn’t cope with that and he promised it wouldn’t happen again and apologised.”
The marriage went ahead as planned that May and the couple wed in the church next door to her parents’ home.
A few days later they were to fly out to have a blessing and reception at the St Regis Hotel in Majorca in front of all their friends.
But her husband dropped a bombshell.
Natasha says: “Two days beforehand he told me, ‘I don’t have the money’. We had to pay the final £11,000 when we arrived but he said he couldn’t. I didn’t know what to do.
“I was too upset to ask my dad. Everyone had booked flights and hotels and it would have been terrible.
“He said he’d sort it.
“He ended up winning a three-horse accumulator which covered the bill.”
That was just the start of the problems.
On the night before big day, Andy turned up drunk at the hotel, beers in hand and a Viking hat on his head.
Natasha says: “The hotel’s security started chasing him because they thought he was some random drunk.
“He grabbed my arm and the security guard saw it and called the police.
“I convinced them he was OK and I was OK, saying he was drunk, and I managed to calm the police down.”
The couple had barely settled in to married life back home when the rows began.
Andy started disappearing for days at a time and Natasha discovered he had a serious gambling problem.
She says: “I was in the apartment and I saw all his betting slips and there were two for £1,000, one at £500, loads of hundreds.
“When I added up them all up for that month he had spent three times his wage – £7,300 for the first week of August.
“It scared me, I wondered how he was paying the mortgage.
“I confronted him about it and he promised he was going to Gamblers Anonymous meetings but he wasn’t.
“My trust in him started to go.”
She went back to her parents and, with his career apparently over, Andy moved in with them in January this year.
His wife believed he had turned over a new leaf but then he vanished again.
Natasha says: “I didn’t hear from him for days. Then someone sent me a Facebook message saying he had been cheating on me.
“It said he had been seeing someone on and off for a few years.”
She desperately tried to get hold of her husband and, with no response, travelled to his family home in Brecon the next day.
Neil Atkinson / Daily MirrorNatasha GascoinePromises: Natasha Gascoine
She recalls: “When I said I was at his home he finally texted saying he was in Cardiff having Sunday lunch and he had a carrot stuck in the throat.
“I thought he was taking the mick.
“I got angry and took it out on his house and car. I sprayed ‘Home wrecker, cheat, liar, addict’ in pink spray paint.
“A couple of days later I miscarried for a third time. At one point I blamed him for losing my babies.
“I hated and resented him for it because I blamed it on the stress and strain he has put me under.”
And yet now she has let him back into her life.
She explains: “After I attacked his car he begged for us to get back together but I didn’t want to know.
“He was begging to see me and I finally agreed to meet. He said that he didn’t cheat on me but I still didn’t believe him.
“He said he had been all over the place since his rugby career had finished.
“We met up again and started sleeping together again and it seemed normal.”
The couple went together to hospital a month ago for their 12-week scan and Andy was overjoyed to see his unborn child for the first time.
Natasha hopes being a dad will turn their marriage around.
She said: “He is so happy about the baby and he can’t wait to be a dad. I know we can make it work this time.”