Rugby Union

Jerry Collins dies in France car crash

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Former New Zealand All Black Jerry Collins has died aged 34 in a car crash in Southern France.

Collins was travelling with his wife and two-month-old daughter in the town of Beziers when their car was hit by a bus.

Collins and his wife, Alana Madill, were pronounced dead at the scene and their daughter Ayla is in a serious condition in Montpellier hospital.

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Jerry Collins was capped 48 times by the All Blacks and captained the side three times. His debut came against Argentina in 2001 and his final international appearance came in a World Cup quarter-final defeat to France in 2007.

"One of the toughest"

The All Blacks have released a statement following his death and said: "He 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."

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His former club Hurricanes also released a statement describing Collins as "an extraordinary leader and player".

Tragic news

The Hurricanes held a minute silence before their 56-20 win over the Otago Highlanders in Napier and Collins' former All Blacks team-mates Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith both paid tribute to the back-rower.

Another former New Zealand team-mate and now current coach of the Super Rugby side, Jamie Joseph, said that Collins "eptiomises the word 'tough' and the game of rugby."

After playing for the Wellington Lions and Hurricanes in his homeland, Collins played for French team Toulon between 2008 and 2009 before moving to Welsh side Ospreys where he was named player's player of the year in 2010. He then had a brief stint in Japan but returned to France to join Narbonne, a second division team.

He also famously turned out for Barnstaple's second team in 2007 and even wore their club socks when representing the Barbarians in a game at Twickenham against South Africa.

Barnstaple rugby club have Tweeted that Jerry Collins will "forever have a special place in the club's history".

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