Former All Black Jerry Collins and his partner have died in a tragic car crash in France.
Collins and Alana Madill died instantly in the incident in the south of France. Their three-month-old baby, Ayla, is in a critical condition after being airlifted to a hospital in Montpellier.
The New Zealand Embassy in Paris confirmed the details.
Respected French newspaper Le Figaro said the accident occurred at 4.30am local time on the A9 in the French region of Herault.
The circumstances around the accident remain unclear.
Collins played 48 tests for the All Blacks including three tests as captain; against Argentina in 2006 and Portugal and Romania in 2007.
He also played eight seasons with the Hurricanes and amassed 47 provincial caps for Wellington dating back to 1999.
Collins signed a deal with second division French club Narbonne in January having not played rugby since finishing up with Japanese club Yamaha two years ago. In the years in between he worked in the security industry in Canada.
Collins was taken on as medical cover for Australian Rocky Elsom.
Narbonne president Anthony Hill said the club searched around the world to find a player who was not tied down to a contract with another club and found that the 48-test All Black was the best option.
“We looked for a hard back-row,” Hill said.
“From near and far, the best forward on the market at that time of the year is Jerry, and the fact that he has signed with us is a great boost for the team.”
Collins’ agent, Tim Castle, has been appointed as the family spokesperson.
“It is a travesty. Both Jerry and has partner have been killed. Their three-month-old baby is very badly injured,” Castle said. “It is devastating news for his family and everybody.”
Super Rugby side the Hurricanes, meanwhile, extended their deepest sympathy to the family of Collins after hearing of his passing ahead of their game against the Highlanders in Napier tonight.
Hurricanes chief executive James Te Puni said: “We are shocked and saddened to hear the news of Jerry and his wife Alana passing. Obviously Jerry was a special part of both the Hurricanes and Wellington Lions over the years. He was an extraordinary leader and player, and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family at this time.
“We also understand Jerry’s baby girl, Ayla, was involved, and we, along with all Hurricanes fans, are also praying for her and hoping she comes through this OK.
“Many of the team here in Napier tonight have strong connections with Jerry and his family, and will certainly do their best to go out there tonight and honour the man who did so much for this club over the years.”
The Hurricanes will wear black arm bands, while a moment’s silence will also take place before kick-off.
A moment of silence was held before the Wellington Saints’ NBL game against the Hawke’s Bay Hawks at TSB Arena.
Collins played for French glamour club Toulon in the 2008-09 season.
In 2013 he was arrested in the Japanese industrial city of Hamamatsu after being found carrying two knives at a city department store.
He paid a $1900 fine, was released and returned to New Zealand.
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