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Maori All Black Connor Garden-Bachop has passed away aged 25

By Ned Lester
Connor Garden-Bachop of the Highlanders. Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images

The Highlanders have confirmed the passing of Connor Garden-Bachop.


The 25-year-old outside back had spent four seasons with the Super Rugby club, being awarded Rookie of the Year in 2021 and representing the Maori All Blacks in 2022.

He is survived by twin daughters and was the son of former All Black Stephen Bachop and former Black Fern Sue Garden-Bachop. His brother, Jackson, spent six years with the Hurricanes and currently plays in France.

New Zealand Rugby has released a statement remembering “a fantastic young player”.

“On behalf of the entire rugby community, the Highlanders, Wellington Rugby, New Zealand Rugby, the New Zealand Maori Rugby Board and the New Zealand Rugby Players Association would like to extend our deepest thoughts and love to the Garden-Bachop family.

“Connor passed away on Monday following a medical event, and rugby’s collective focus at this time is on supporting his family. All of rugby walks alongside the Garden-Bachop family at this time and we are collectively united in our grief.

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

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


“NZR, the New Zealand Maori Rugby Board, the Highlanders, Wellington Rugby and the Players Association are providing support and we ask that the privacy of the Garden-Bachop family is respected.”

Often sporting a wide grin on the rugby field, Connor Garden-Bachop was last week confirmed to be leaving the Highlanders by the club and took to social media just three days ago to express his gratitude for his time in Dunedin.

“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.

A product of Scots College in Wellington, Gardon-Bachop first represented Canterbury in the NPC before returning to represent his home city with the Lions, where he won the 2022 title.



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Dave 30 days ago

So sad,always had a smile on his face, always a pleasure to watch with the ball in hand.wish his family well.

Utiku Old Boy 31 days ago

Young sports people are passing away in record numbers since the jab. “Medical Event” is how they are explained in media circles.

Jacinda 31 days ago

My heart goes out to all his family and close friends. Such a shock to lose someone so young. Rest easy now.

Col683 31 days ago

Wow! Definitely, destined for higher Honours as a player……reminiscent of AB Great, Ben Smith. Rest Easy Connor😔.

Jen 31 days ago

So incredibly sad.

Jon 31 days ago


Lovely player. I’m frustrated by his lack of minutes and our infatuation with SR and it’s test match physicality requirements though. I wanted to see more of him.

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