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 All Blacks said on Twitter 

     they are "shocked and saddened" by the news.


 
         

    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 ferocious tackling, he made his All Blacks debut against Argentina in Christchurch in 2001.


 
         

    He also captained them 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 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.


 
   

         

    In his first season with Ospreys, he helped them to a third league title and was voted players' player of the year.


 
         

    "He was his own man, a true individual and a giant of the world game. 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," the Welsh region said.


 
         

    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 told BBC Radio 5 live.


 
         

    "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.


 
         

    Collins' former Super Rugby side Hurricanes played against the Highlanders in Napier on Friday and held a minute's silence before their game.


 
   

   

How did he end up playing for Barnstaple?



         

    "Jerry was on holiday in North Devon close to where we live and I happened to bump into him in a cafe," explained Kevin Squire, former head coach of Barnstaple Rugby Club.


 
         

    "I went over to introduce myself and get a selfie and the next thing I know I am having coffee with him and invited him down to our club.


 
         

    "I never expected him to come down but two or three days later he was there watching the first team and took a training session with our Under-13s. After that he asked if he could play a game the following day. We said he couldn't as he wasn't registered but he said 'no, not the first team, but the second or third team'.


 
         

    "The next day he jumped on the bus and played with our second team. The story went around the world.


 
         

    "He was on holiday for six weeks in the area and kept coming round to see us, he would call round to our houses, drink with us and party with us.


 
         

    "He was a bit disillusioned with the game at the point in his life. New Zealand had exited the World Cup earlier than thought and he got in a lot of trouble for playing with us in that game.


 
         

    "He was just a fantastic guy and I was so upset to hear the news. Everyone at Barnstaple will be sad to hear this news.


 
         

    "For the guys that played that day with him is an experience they will never forget.


 
         

    "My overriding feeling from that time was what a terrific fella he was, he was rugby nuts. He was so down to earth, he gave us all advice on the game. His influence on Devon and Barnstaple rugby will never be forgotten."


 





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