Jerry Collins: Former All Black dies in car crash
Written by Taiwo Adediran on June 5, 2015
Former All Black Jerry Collins and his wife Alana Madill have died in a car crash in France, with their daughter in a critical condition in hospital.
Reports in France say a bus was in collision with the couple’s car in the early hours of Friday.
Collins, 34, made his debut for new Zealand in 2001 and won 48 caps. The ex-Ospreys flanker had been playing for French side Narbonne.
The tough-tackling blind-side flanker was described as the “Jonah Lomu of the forwards” by World Cup-winning England scrum-half Matt Dawson.
Wales and Ospreys scrum-half Rhys Webb said it was “devastating news” to hear of the death of “a true rugby legend”.
Rodney So’oialo, who played at number eight alongside Collins for the All Blacks, tweeted: “Very sad day to hear a team-mate, and our very good friend Jerry Collins has passed.”
England’s 2003 World Cup-winning winger Ben Cohen tweeted: “So so sad. Can’t believe that Jerry Collins and partner Alana died in car crash in France – RIP.”
Collins started his career at Wellington in the National Provincial Championship and also played for the city’s Super Rugby outfit Hurricanes.
Renowned for his bleach-blonde hair and tough tackling, he made his All Blacks debut against Argentina in Christchurch in 2001.
He captained the side three times and played for New Zealand at the 2003 and 2007 World Cups.
His last match for the All Blacks was the 2007 World Cup quarter-final loss to France in Cardiff.
Later that year, Collins famously turned out for Barnstaple’s second XV side against Newton Abbot while on holiday in Devon.
He announced his international retirement in 2008 and went on to join French Top 14 side Toulon before moving to Wales to play for Ospreys in 2009.
The Samoa-born back-rower spent two years in Japan playing for Yamaha Jubilo, from 2011-2013, before joining French second-tier side Narbonne in January 2015.
“I spoke with Rocky Elsom, the Australian manager of Narbonne, and he was clearly still in shock at the news,” Radio New Zealand news editor Tony Vale said.
“I also spoke to the club president, Anthony Hill, and he told me that they were still trying to come to terms with the news. He said Collins basically saved the club.”
Narbonne finished one place above the relegation zone in France’s second division last season, having been in the relegation places at the start of February.
Hurricanes played against the Highlanders in Napier on Friday and held a minute’s silence before their game.