PREVIOUSLY described as ‘the girlfriend of Munster star Simon Zebo’, Elvira Fernandez is emerging as a star in her own right.
The 25-year-old mum of two has just won Ms Power Woman 2017 — an international modelling competition which took place in Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, and she’s hoping it will take her modelling career to the next level.
We caught up with her as she arrived at her family home in Madrid where she was enjoying a two day break with Simon and the kids after the week long pageant, before returning to Cork.two day break with Simon and the kids after the week long pageant, before returning to Cork.
Representing her native Spain, she said she entered the competition, which also features a spin-off reality TV show broadcast in the US, with a view to “getting my face out there”. As well as taking the overall title, Elvira who has been modelling since she was 17, won Ms Photogenic and Ms Friendship.
Lest anyone think she’s just a pretty face, Elvira graduated from University College Cork last year with a Law degree — which she fitted in around her two young children Jacob — aged three years and three months — and Sofia, 11 months.
That’s doubly impressive when you consider the amount of time 27-year-old Simon spends away from home because of his Munster and Irish rugby commitments.
But Elvira, who lives in Blackrock, takes it all in her stride and is refreshingly honest when she says: “He does what he needs to do and I do what I need to do; I knew what type of life I would have with him and I accepted that.
“There are good things about it and bad things but everything can’t be perfect.”
The down side, obviously, is that he’s away a lot, she says.
“Or he’s training during the day, then he’s home late, but he’s the provider for the family and I have to let him rest.”
However, she does insist that it’s important she also has her own life — just from a fulfilment point of view.
“Simon is a person, I’m a person, we are both individuals and we need to do what makes us feel good.”
Backtracking, the pair met randomly outside a chip shop in Blackrock some 10 years ago when a then 15-year-old Elvira was here to learn English.
She was staying with a family locally and going to school in the Ursulines when she met a 16-year-old Simon “by chance outside the chip shop”. The pair dated for the year she was here and kept in touch when she returned to Madrid. Seven years later he visited and they reignited their relationship and Elvira moved to Cork permanently in 2013.
Turning 26 in September, she admits life is very busy — “non-stop” — with two small children and a partner who is away a lot.
For example, it took her a little longer to complete her Law degree as she didn’t have anyone to mind Jacob and had to study at night.
She has had au pairs in the past, and as she wants to work more going forward, says that finding another is a priority for her.
And while she intends to use her law degree in the future, for now she is more focused on her modelling.now she is more focused on her modelling.
“We will have to see about Simon’s job and where we will be based and what contracts he will be offered before I would set up my law career,” she adds.
Ahead of the Power Woman pageant she “hit the gym hard for two months, six months after the birth of Sofia”, attending the Maryborough House Hotel.
“But then my au pair left and I didn’t have any time. So I had to look at what I was eating. I do eat healthily but I eat big quantities — I vary it a lot as I get bored easily and I don’t drink alcohol at all.”
Not a massive sports fan, she readily admits to only watching Munster matches if Simon is playing: “I don’t like watching sport, but I like watching him.”
Simon and her sister Paloma travelled to Punta Cana with her and she said he was a great support.
“Sofia isn’t sleeping that well at the moment so when she’d wake at 5am he’d take her for a walk or into the hammock so I could sleep.”5am he’d take her for a walk or into the hammock so I could sleep.”
She admits neither of their children were planned — and were lovely surprises.were planned — and were lovely surprises.
“I was breastfeeding Jacob when I got pregnant with Sofia and we weren’t being careful at all; so while I didn’t look for another baby I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Simon, who has a large social media following, is known for his sense of humour — but what people may not know about him, Elvira says, is that he’s very untidy.
He’s also very generous and romantic and is always surprising her with thoughtful treats — like her favourite McFlurrys!
She can see them getting married in the future but warns his proposal “will have to be done very well!”
Like all sports stars he has a large fan base and has a certain profile but she doesn’t mind sharing him in the slightest.
“I’m not a jealous person as long as I have no reason to be. I get a lot of attention as well!”
She enjoys living in Cork although she says their social life is quiet as they are so busy, but she is good friends with Munster’s Billy Holland’s partner, who lives just a minute’s walk away.
She’s a brand ambassador for TheFancyHen.ie — a company who organise upmarket hen parties — and she has other business ideas which she is staying tight-lipped about for the time being.
But while she’s not looking forward to getting back to the rain in Cork, she is looking forward to focussing on her next challenge – Miss Bikini Ireland, which takes place at the end of this year.