1500 march in tribute to Jerry Collins

About 1500 people have marched in silence around the Narbonne in a tribute to former All Black Jerry Collins, who was on the books of the southern French city’s rugby club when he died in a car crash.

The 34-year-old Collins and his partner Alana Madill died instantly in Friday’s crash and their baby daughter Ayla is in a critical condition in hospital.

Those walking on Sunday behind a giant photograph of the 48-times capped flanker with his girlfriend and daughter included Collins’s cousin and fellow All Black Chris Masoe – who plays for Toulon – and some of his Narbonne teammates.

Many of the mourners were dressed in the second-tier club’s colours of orange and black, with some laying bouquets of flowers at the base of the photograph, which was placed outside the club stadium.

Numerous tributes have been paid to Collins since a bus crashed into his stationary car near Beziers.

On Friday, his former teammates at three-time European champions Toulon wore black armbands during the 33-16 French championship semi-final loss to Stade Francais – which was preceded by a minute’s silence – while their backrow forward Masoe dyed his hair peroxide blond like Collins’s.

On Saturday at Perpignan, a match that was due to be a testimonial match for Samoa’s Henry Tuilagi, who is retiring after eight seasons with the historic French club, was turned into a tribute to the late flanker with all the ticket receipts going to Collins’s family.

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