Highlanders' Connor Garden-Bachop, 25, dies after 'medical event'

Connor Garden-Bachop has died at just 25 after suffering a medical event Joe Allison/Getty Images

Highlanders and Maori All Blacks back Connor Garden-Bachop has died after suffering a medical event on Monday, New Zealand Rugby has announced.

Garden-Bachop, the son of former All Blacks back Stephen Bachop and late Black Ferns player Sue Garden-Bachop, was 25.

"On behalf of the entire rugby community, the Highlanders, Wellington Rugby, New Zealand Rugby, the New Zealand Māori Rugby Board and the New Zealand Rugby Players Association would like to extend our deepest thoughts and love to the Garden-Bachop family," a collective statement read.

"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 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."

According to stuff.co.nz, Garden-Bachop died after suffering a medical event at a relative's home in Christchurch on Monday.

Garden-Bachop debuted for the Highlanders in 2021, winning the franchise's Rookie of the Year Award. The following year he was selected for the Maori All Blacks' two-game series against Ireland. He also played for Wellington in New Zealand's National Provincial Competition.