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Ian Kirkpatrick Medal to come in 2022 for Heartland

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Iconic All Blacks Bill Osborne and Ian Kirkpatrick have had newly created Bunnings Warehouse Heartland Championship awards named after them New Zealand Rugby (NZR) has announced.  

A new challenger trophy for the Bunnings Warehouse Heartland Championship teams will be unveiled in Gisborne this Sunday where Poverty Bay and Mid-Canterbury will contest the Bill Osborne Taonga for the first time during the tournament’s fifth and sixth playoff. 

Rugby’s newest taonga, which will be governed by similar rules as the famous Ranfurly Shield, is an acknowledgement of current NZR President Bill Osborne (Te Āti Haunui-a-Pāpārangi), a player who emerged from Whanganui to play 48 matches including 16 Tests and become one of the All Blacks finest midfielders during a career that stretched from 1975-1982. 

And from 2022, the Bunnings Warehouse Heartland Championship Player of the Year award will become the Ian Kirkpatrick Medal in recognition of the legendary former All Blacks Captain, loose forward and current NZR Patron. 

Kirkpatrick, who played 113 matches including 39 Tests for the All Blacks, leading the team on 43 occasions, also got his representative rugby start with a Heartland Union, for the combined Poverty Bay-Ngāti Porou East Coast side after leaving Auckland’s Kings College. 

Both men expressed their pride and gratitude in being recognised by rugby’s Heartland unions. 

“You never forget your roots and where it all started,” Kirkpatrick said. “To have my name attached to the Heartland Player of the Year award from 2022 is a great honour and something I am truly humbled by. Heartland rugby remains an integral part of our game, its pathways and its deep connection to rural New Zealand.” 

Kirkpatrick will be on hand in Gisborne to watch Poverty Bay play this weekend for the Bill Osborne Taonga, named after his great friend and former All Black teammate, who will be following the match from Europe where he is representing NZR during the All Blacks Tudor Northern Tour. 

“It is a great honour to be recognised with a taonga which represents my deep connection with rugby, my province Whanganui, and to all 12 of our Heartland unions,” Osborne said. “It’s a special honour to represent your whēnua and your community in rural New Zealand.  I think Jason and Bill have instilled real mana into the design of the taonga and I’m sure it will be fought for and valued in the true spirit of Heartland Championship rugby.” 

Designed and created by Otaki-based Kaiwhakaairo (carver) and artist Jason Hina (Ngā Rauru Kiitahi, Te Atihaunui ā PāpārangiNgāti Apa, Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Kauwhata and Ngāti Raukawa) and fellow carver Bill Doyle, who created the Tū Kotahi Aotearoa trophy last year, the Bill Osborne Taonga represents the essence of what it means to be from New Zealand’s Heartland. 

Hina said of his creation: “There is a challenge aspect carved into the taonga. Yes, it relates to rugby but it is also a challenge about what happens off the field and ensuring the effort they put in to winning the taonga is equal to that they apply to caring for it now they have won it. The positive life force in this taonga must be cared for so it never dies.” 

In guiding the design of the totara taonga, Osborne provided Hina and Doyle with a whakatauki from his own iwi – ‘E rere kau mai te Āwanui, Mai i te Kāhui maunga ki Tangaroa, kō au te Āwa, kō te Āwa kō au’ – which translates in English to: ‘As the great river flows from the mountain to the sea, I am the river, and the river is me’. 

“No matter what part of the world I find myself in – I am always reminded of who I am by saying to myself, ‘Ko au te Awa, Ko te Awa ko au’,” Osborne said. “It keeps me grounded and humble with both feet firmly attached to the ground; or to the land where my heart is. For me this is the area between Ruapehu in the north to the Whanganui/Taranaki coastline but for other people; it is other heartland areas.” 

Steve Lancaster, NZR General Manager Community Rugby added: 

“Bill and Ian have so much respect and mana among our Heartland provinces, and we are grateful they have accepted the honour of lending their names to these two special additions to our game. 

“We believe the Bill Osborne Taonga will hold a special place amongst the Bunnings Warehouse Heartland Championship teams and will be challenged for and defended with the same passion as we have seen with the Ranfurly Shield for such a long time. 

“It’s fitting it starts its life in the fifth and sixth playoff match which will ensure it stands alone in its first outing away from the Meads and Lochore Cup finals.”  

William (Bill) Michael Osborne (Te Āti Haunui-a-Pāpārangi 

Played second five-eighth and centre for the All Blacks between 1975 and 1982 amassing 16 Tests and 48 games. Osborne represented Whanganui as an 18-year-old after leaving Whanganui High School and made his way through Kaierau Rugby Club to the Whanganui representative team.  

His full player profile can be viewed here Stats | 

Ian Andrew Kirkpatrick 

Played loose forward for the All Blacks between 1967 and 1977 amassing 113 games for the All Blacks including 39 Tests. Kirkpatrick led the All Blacks 43 times after starting his representative career with Poverty Bay-Ngāti Porou East Coast after leaving Kings College. Although his rugby career progressed to Canterbury where he moved to further his farming careerit was at Poverty Bay where he first burst onto the scene as a tall and naturally athletic loose forward.  

His full player profile can be viewed here Stats |