For­mer All Black Jerry Collins dies in French high­way col­li­sion

The China Post - - SPORTS -

For­mer New Zealand rugby in­ter­na­tional Jerry Collins was killed Fri­day along with his wife when a bus crashed into their car in south­ern France, lo­cal of­fi­cials said, as ex-team­mates ex­pressed shock.

Collins, 34, who was capped 48 times by the All Blacks, was near the town of Beziers when his car came to an un­ex­plained stop on the A9 high­way, be­fore be­ing hit by the bus.

The cou­ple were trav­el­ing with their two- month- old daugh­ter, who sur­vived the ac­ci­dent but is in a se­ri­ous con­di­tion, the of­fi­cials said. The driver of the bus, which was car­ry­ing Por­tuguese tourists, was lightly in­jured.

Collins’ wife was Alana Madill and New Zealand Rugby (NZR) named their child as Ayla.

The flanker made his All Blacks de­but against Ar­gentina in 2001 but his in­ter­na­tional ca­reer ended at just 26 when New Zealand lost to France in the quar­ter­fi­nals of the 2007 World Cup in Cardiff.

The All Blacks of­fi­cial web­site de­scribed him as one of New Zealand’s most feared en­forcers.

“Collins was one of the tough­est and most un­com­pro­mis­ing for­wards to ever play for the All Blacks and his fe­ro­cious tack­ling and in­tim­i­dat­ing pres­ence made him feared by ev­ery op­po­nent,” it said.

Greg Peters, chief ex­ec­u­tive of SAN­ZAR, the rul­ing body of south­ern hemi­sphere rugby, hailed Collins as an “undis­puted leg­end of the game.”

“He in­spired all of those around him with his pas­sion and love for the game through­out a highly dec­o­rated ca­reer for club and coun­try,” said Peters in a state­ment.

“Rest in peace JC, as the rugby world mourns and re­mem­bers one of its greats.”

Collins cap­tained New Zealand on three oc­ca­sions, in­clud­ing a Test against Ar­gentina, and went on to play in France, Wales and Ja­pan af­ter leav­ing his home­land. He was cur­rently play­ing with sec­ond-tier French club RC Nar­bonne.

He was known for some mis­chievous mo­ments, in­clud­ing be­ing caught re­liev­ing him­self on the pitch just be­fore kick-off in a TriNa­tions game against Australia in 2006.

He laughed it off, say­ing: “It was just the wrong time and the wrong place but what could I do? I couldn’t sprint off and find the toi­lets.”

Collins also hit the head­lines off the pitch in Ja­pan when he was ar­rested for the il­le­gal pos­ses­sion of a 17-cen­time­ter kitchen knife.

Ac­cord­ing to the Ja­panese me­dia, he told po­lice he kept it with him to “de­fend him­self.”

NZR gen­eral manager Neil Sorensen said: “The news has shocked us all and our thoughts are with Jerry and Alana’s fam­i­lies at this ter­ri­bly sad time.”

Collins’ manager Tim Cas­tle said the player’s fam­ily was dis­traught at the death of “a muchloved son, brother and friend.”

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