Highlanders and Maori All Blacks player dies aged 25


Highlanders and Māori All Blacks player Connor Garden-Bachop has died aged 25.

Garden-Bachop, son of former All Black Stephen Bachop and Black Fern Sue Garden-Bachop, died following a “medical event”, according to a join statement from New Zealand Rugby, the New Zealand Māori Rugby Board, Highlanders, Wellington Rugby and the New Zealand Rugby Players Association.

”Connor was a fantastic young player, an exciting New Zealand age-grade representative and a proud Māori All Black. Wherever he played, he was a committed and popular teammate with infectious energy and someone who could light up the room,” the statement said.

Connor Garden-Bachop. (Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

”Most importantly, he was a loving father to his twin girls, a brother, a son and immeasurably loved by all those who knew him.”

NZ media reported police were called to the scene of a sudden death in Christchurch around 5.55pm local time on Monday.

In a statement, police said: “The death is not being treated as suspicious and will be referred to the Coroner.”

Garden-Bachop posted on social media last week thanking the Highlanders and appeared to be leaving the franchise.

“Thank you @highlandersteam for an unforgettable five years. Thank you to everyone in the south for making me feel at home, and thank you to the boys I have been honoured to share the field with, it’s been a pleasure, I will miss you all. Till next time,” he said.

Help is available to anyone experiencing mental health problems, 24 hours a day, by phoning Lifeline on 13 11 14.

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