Narbonne hold silent march for Jerry Collins

Late All Black great Jerry Collins’ tragic death in a car crash on Friday was marked by a silent march by around 1500 people in the southern French city of Narbonne, whose rugby team he played rugby for, on Sunday.

Collins, 34 and his partner Alana Madill died instantly on Friday in the crash in southern France and their baby daughter Ayla is in a critical but stable condition in hospital.

The marchers — which included Collins’s cousin and fellow All Black now Toulon star Chris Masoe among their number as well as some of his Narbonne team-mates — walked in silence behind a giant photograph of the 48-times capped flanker along with his girlfriend and daughter.

Masoe was asked to say a few words and with his voice choked with emotion was only able to say “Thank you to everybody.” Many of his fellow mourners preferred to keep their thoughts to themselves rather than speak to the assembled media.

Lots of those present 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.

Known as the ‘human wrecking ball’ Collins played the game with a smile on his face. Numerous tributes have been paid to him since the accident that saw a bus crash into his stationary car near Beziers.

On Friday his former team-mates 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 did for a “pint of Guinness” look.

Masoe himself also wore a message on an improvised wristband reading; “RIP JC – Love you brother.”

On Saturday at Perpignan a match that was due to be a testimonial match for Samoan 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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