Saturday 22 October 2016

Former All Black Jerry Collins and his wife die in French car accident

Jerry Collins during his playing days with the All Blacks
Jerry Collins during his playing days with the All Blacks

Former All Black forward Jerry Collins has died in a car accident in France in the early hours of Friday morning, New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has confirmed.

Thirty-four-year-old Collins was travelling near the town of Beziers in southern France when his car was involved in a collision with a bus at 4.30am local time (3.30am BST).

French newspaper Midi Libre reported that Collins and his wife Alana Madill died in the accident, while their infant daughter Ayla was rushed to hospital in Montpellier in a "desperate state".

A New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesperson said: "The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has been advised of a serious vehicle accident in France in which All Black rugby player Jerry Collins was killed."

A message from the All Blacks official Twitter account read: "We are shocked and saddened by reports about the accident involving Jerry."

Collins played 48 times for New Zealand in a seven-year international career which saw him represent the All Blacks at the 2003 and 2007 World Cups.

Collins announced his international retirement in 2008 and subsequently joined Top 14 side Toulon before moving to Wales to play for Ospreys.

The Samoa-born back-rower went on to spend two years in Japan playing for Yamaha Jubilo before joining French second division side Narbonne in January.

Former All Blacks captain Sean Fitzpatrick mourned the loss of an uncompromising player who had a softer side away from the pitch.

"It's tragic news. Our condolences go out to the family," Fitzpatrick told Sky Sports News.

"For him and his wife to lose their life at such a young age and have their baby - who was in the back of the car - in a critical condition is the worse news possible. It's very sad to lose a member of the All Blacks club.

"I first came across him in 1999 when he was the player of the Under-19 World Cup. He was a man in a boy's body basically.

"In 2000 I managed the New Zealand Under-21s and he played in that team along with some of the guys who are still playing now.

"He was phenomenal - as tough as nails on the field and as loving and caring off the field.

"A gentleman off the field but tough and uncompromising on the field and he was a great All Black.

"Unfortunately I think he left the game a bit early in terms of international rugby after the World Cup in 2007, but he'll be remembered as a great All Black, somebody who wore the jersey with pride. He epitomised everything an All Black could be."

The Ospreys paid tribute to a player who served them with distinction from 2009 to 2011.

"He was his own man, a true individual and a giant of the world game," a statement released by the Welsh region read.

"Jerry made a huge impact during his short time in an Ospreys jersey and will be sadly missed by everybody in rugby, his family and friends. RIP JC."

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