Former All Black star Jerry Collins dies with wife in car crash

Sad: Jerry Collins with students at Blackrock College in Dublin
Sad: Jerry Collins with students at Blackrock College in Dublin

Former All Black forward Jerry Collins has died in a car accident in France in the early hours of Friday morning, New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has confirmed.

Thirty-four-year-old Collins was travelling near the town of Beziers in southern France when his car was involved in a collision with a bus at 4.30am local time (3.30am BST).

French newspaper Midi Libre reported that Collins and his wife Alana Madill died in the accident, while their infant daughter Ayla was rushed to hospital in Montpellier in a "desperate state".

A New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesperson said: "The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has been advised of a serious vehicle accident in France in which All Black rugby player Jerry Collins was killed."

A message from the All Blacks official Twitter account read: "We are shocked and saddened by reports about the accident involving Jerry."

The All Blacks official website describes the flanker as one of New Zealand's most feared enforcers.

"Collins 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," it said.

Collins played 48 times for New Zealand in a seven-year international career which saw him represent the All Blacks at the 2003 and 2007 World Cups. Collins announced his international retirement in 2008 and subsequently joined Top 14 side Toulon before moving to Wales to play for Ospreys.

The Samoa-born back-rower went on to spend two years in Japan playing for Yamaha Jubilo before joining French second division side Narbonne in January.