A new rugby trophy contested by England and the All Blacks will honour the late Sir Edmund Hillary, New Zealand Prime Minster Helen Clark announced today.
The countries will play for the Hillary Shield to honour the New Zealand icon’s strong ties to Great Britain, with the first match at Twickenham on November 29.
Hillary, part of a British expedition when he and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay became the first men to conquer Everest shortly after Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953, died in Auckland on January 11 this year.
New Zealand Rugby Union chairman Jock Hobbs told the All Blacks’ official website: “The NZRU and the whole rugby community of New Zealand is privileged to be able to honour Sir Edmund’s life through the Hillary Shield.
“It will acknowledge Sir Ed on the rugby field and it will also recognise the links between England and New Zealand, just as Sir Ed’s conquest of Mount Everest was achieved through a combined British effort.”
England team manager Martin Johnson believes the game will be a privilege for both teams.
“It will be an honour for both squads to compete for the Hillary Shield,” he said. “Having spent a lot of time in New Zealand myself, I fully appreciate the high esteem in which Sir Edmund is held by everyone, not only in his home country but also in Great Britain.
“Sir Edmund achieved so much in his life and was a hugely respected figure around the world.
“For all the players on November 29 it will be a very special occasion and a privilege for them to compete for the Hillary Shield for the first time, and one that they will always remember."