It’s with deep sadness that today we’ve learned of the passing of the great All Black flanker, Jerry Collins. The 34-year-old, along with his partner Alana Madill, died in a car crash in France last night. Their baby daughter Ayla remains in critical condition.
Details of the incident will no doubt emerge throughout the course of the next few days, but his long-standing manager Tim Castle, via New Zealand Rugby, released a statement earlier.
“I have been in touch with Jerry’s father Frank and other members of his family who are in Samoa at the moment. It’s obviously a terribly difficult time for them and together with New Zealand Rugby we are doing all we can to support them.
“I have also been in touch with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who are also doing everything they can to ensure that baby Ayla is getting all the care and support she needs. I am very grateful for their support.
“The family would also like to thank everyone for their messages of support and have asked for privacy at this time.”
Born in Apia, Samoa, Collins went on to play for Wellington in 1999, before making his Super Rugby and All Blacks debuts in 2001. He played a total of 74 matches for the Hurricanes, and 50 for the All Blacks, including 48 Tests.
He captained New Zealand against Argentina in 2006, and later played his rugby at the Ospreys in Wales, as well as spending time playing in Japan with the Yamaha club, and France with Toulon. Most recently, he had signed to join Narbonne this year.
SANZAR CEO Greg Peters said: “Jerry Collins is an undisputed legend of the game for Wellington, the Hurricanes and the All Blacks. He inspired all of those around him with his passion and love for the game throughout a highly decorated career for club and country.
“Jerry was a wonderful person who will be sadly missed by all who knew him. Thoughts and prayers go out to both he and Alana’s family and especially to their young daughter who is bravely fighting for life.
“Rest in peace JC, as the rugby world mourns and remembers one of its greats.”
Wales captain Sam Warburton tweeted: “What a huge loss. Inspiration to many young players growing up including myself. RIP Jerry Collins and his wife Alana. Best wishes baby Ayla.”
Collins has featured on Rugbydump since the early days, so is a firm favourite as he’s always been one of the hardest tacklers in the sport, and throughout his Hurricanes and All Blacks career was often right in the thick of it when it mattered most.
We send sincere condolences to his family, friends and former team mates, and loved ones of partner Alana, and of course thoughts are with baby Ayla as she fights for her life.
May he Rest in Peace.