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Connor Garden-Bachop, New Zealand rugby player, dies aged 25 after a ‘medical event’

By Ben Morse, CNN

(CNN) — Rugby union player Connor Garden-Bachop has died aged 25 after a “medical event,” New Zealand Rugby confirmed on Tuesday.

Garden-Bachop represented the Māori All Blacks – a side initially constructed to represent the Māori culture in New Zealand – and played for Canterbury, Wellington and the Highlanders at club level.

He passed away on Monday, the governing body said in a joint statement with the New Zealand Māori Rugby Board, the Highlanders, Wellington Rugby and the New Zealand Rugby Players’ Association.

“All of rugby walks alongside the Garden-Bachop family at this time and we are collectively united in our grief,” the statement said.

“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.

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

His father, Stephen Bachop, represented both Samoa and New Zealand at international level and his mother, Sue Garden-Bachop, played for New Zealand’s women’s rugby team, according to Reuters.

His uncle, Graeme Bachop, played for New Zealand at two Rugby World Cups and later for Japan at the 1999 Rugby World Cup.

“The house of rugby laments the passing of one of its sons who graced the playing fields,” the official All Blacks rugby union account on posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“He will be remembered as dynamic young player and popular teammate amongst the Māori All Blacks, Highlanders and Wellington.

“Our deepest condolences to Connor’s family, friends and teammates in this sad time.”

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