New rugby trophy honours Sir Ed Hillary
24 Oct 2008
A new rugby trophy contested between the All Blacks and the English will honour the life of Sir Edmund Hillary and mark both his love of the game and his links with Britain.
The Hillary Shield was announced by New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark as part of new government moves to honour the New Zealand hero.
Sir Ed’s widow Lady June Hillary, his climbing friend Jim Wilson, NZ rugby great Sir Wilson Whineray, NZRFU chairman Jock Hobbs and All Black Keven Mealamu all attended the announcement.
The English and All Blacks will first contest the Hillary Shield in their next test match at Twickenham on November 29. Lady June is expected to attend for the unveiling of the shield and the match.
Helen Clark said the wishes of Sir Edmund's family were paramount in the ways chosen to commemorate his life.
Although Sir Edmund did not play rugby, Lady June said he would have been "chuffed" at the shield as he was a longstanding fan of the game and of the All Blacks.
English tick of approval
Mr Hobbs said the shield would add "a sense of history" to test matches between the two countries. "I hope Sir Edmund is looking down on this announcement today and is happy with it. Lady Hillary said she thought he would be chuffed, and I can assure you we are too," he said.
The shield also has a tick of approval from the English team - the NZRFU said England team manager Martin Johnston had commented it was an honour to compete for a shield named after such a respected figure.
Sir Edmund, 88, died on January 11 and the Government has since been working on ways to honour his life with his family, friends and outdoor recreation organisations.
The Government said yesterday it would be increasing the amount given to Hillary’s Himalayan Trust by $60,000 - up to $350,000 a year. The trust was set up by Sir Edmund in 1965 for work in Nepal, such as building hospitals and schools.
A recreation council bearing Sir Ed's name will be established within Government funding agency Sparc to focus on outdoor recreation for youth.
His name would also be added to the Duke of Edinburgh Award, known as the Young New Zealanders' Challenge.
Helen Clark said Sir Ed had strong links to Britain - his Mt Everest climb in 1953 was as part of a British expedition. He was also a Knight of the Royal Garter - an honour the Queen bestows on only 24 living humans.
The Sir Edmund Hillary Fellowship, announced last month, provides for an Indian or Nepali to visit New Zealand each year.
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