FORMER All Black rugby captain Jerry Collins and his wife Alana have been killed in a car crash on the A9 motorway in Languedoc-Roussillon.
The 34-year-old’s car had apparently stopped suddenly on the motorway near Béziers péage in Hérault when it was hit by a bus. The accident happened about 4.30 this morning
Their four-month-old daughter Ayla was seriously injured in the crash and is in a critical condition in hospital.
No one was hurt on the bus, which was carrying 21 Portuguese workers.
Known for his devastating tackles - which once knocked-out Welsh rival Colin Charvis - back-rower Collins had been signed in January as a temporary replacement at Pro D2 club Narbonne. This was his second French club, having played for Toulon from 2008-2009.
The back-rower was three times New Zealand captain and retired from international rugby in 2008.
He played 74 games for Wellington Hurricanes from 1999-2007 and 50 matches for the All Blacks, including 48 Tests. He also played with Ospreys in Wales from 2009-2011 before joining the Japanese club Yamaha Jubilo in 2011. He even turned out for English lower division side Barnstaple while on holiday there in 2007 - and wore their red socks when he played for the Barbarians.
New Zealand Rugby General Manager Rugby Neil Sorensen said: “The news has shocked us all and our thoughts are with Jerry and Alana’s families at this terribly sad time. We offer our deepest condolences to them and will support them as they come to terms with this devastating news.”
French and home nations rugby unions sent their condolences and former Scotland stand-off Gregor Townsend paid tribute saying “One of the toughest men to play our game. Tried to tackle him in 2000 and ended up with a broken rib. RIP”
#RIPJerryCollins Nos plus sincères condoléances à la famille de Jerry Collins et @AllBlacks pic.twitter.com/bSXq1nfnFz— FF Rugby (@FFRugby) June 5, 2015
Jerry Collins playing for Narbonne - Photo: Daxipedia