The rugby world mourns the passing of a true legend

05/06/2015

The rugby world was dealt a shocking blow this morning with news that former All Black legend Jerry Collins had lost his life in a traffic accident in France along with his partner Alana while their daughter Ayla in a critical condition.

Collins, one of the greatest players of a generation had been in Canet-en-Roussillon attending a testimonial banquet for Samoan rugby player Henry Tuilagi who plays for Perpignan.

Returning along the A9 motorway in the direction of Beziers, Collins car reportedly being driven by his partner, pulled into traffic where it collided with a bus carrying 21 passengers. Collins and his partner Alana died instantly while the bus driver managed to free their 4 month old daughter.

Tributes have flooded in about the 48 times capped All Black who made a lasting impression in the Northern Hemisphere having spent time up here playing with the Ospreys and Toulon.

A real rugby man, in 2005 he led the All Blacks to Letterkenny in Donegal where they visited the birthplace of the first ever All Black skipper Dave Gallaher. Whilst in Donegal they opened the Dave Gallaher Memorial Park. Standing for hours, signing autographs, chatting and posing for photos, Collins made a lasting impression on the thousands of people who gathered to meet them.

He was a man with a true love for the game, even spending a short spell playing for Barnstaple 2XV while on holidays!

A chance encounter in a cafe between Barnstaple coach and Collins saw a friendship develop, and when the coach asked the All Black to come to his club, Collins was only too happy to oblige.

Collins rocked up the following weekend to watch Barnstaple 1XV then took a few training sessions for the U13.

The following week he asked if it would be possible to get a game, Barnstaple coach Kevin Squire explained that Collins wasn’t registered to which Collins replied “not for the 1XV but maybe the 2XV or 3XV”. That weekend the All Black legend jumped on the bus and headed off with Barnstaple 2XV for an away game against Newton Abbot! A week later he played for the Barbarians and wore Barnstaple socks.

After retiring from rugby in 2008 Jerry moved north saying goodbye to the Hurricanes where he had played since 1999. Collins went on to play for Toulon (09-9) and the Ospreys (09-11) where he played more hours of rugby than any other player in the Pro12 during his 2 seasons with the club. In 2011 (11-13) Collins headed south to play for Yamaha Jubilo in Japan. In 2014 he took a break from rugby but in January 2015 Collins returned to France playing in the ProD2 for Racing Club Narbonne as a medical joker for injured Rocky Elsom.

Collins tragically lost his life on 5th June 2015 aged 34.

 

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