March held to honour Collins

Date published: June 8 2015

Former All Blacks flanker Jerry Collins's recent death was marked by a silent march by around 1500 people in Narbonne on Sunday.

The march was held as a mark of respect for Collins, who died in a car crash along with his wife Alana Madill in southern France on Friday.

Their four-month old baby daughter Ayla is in a critical condition in hospital in Montpellier.

Some of Collins' Narbonne team-mates as well as his cousin, former All Black Chris Masoe – who arrived from Toulon – were among the marchers who walked in silence behind a giant photograph of the 34-year-old along with his partner and daughter.

Masoe had dyed his hair to match Collins' trademark look.

There was plenty of tears as Collins was remembered by the mourners. Many of the marchers wore Narbonne's orange jerseys and a three-metre tall image of Collins was erected outside the 13th century Archbishop's Palace in Narbonne's historic centre.

Regional councillor Didier Codorniou – who also played at Test level for France – said it was a sad day.

"We mourn a great player and a captain of the All Blacks," he told Fairfax Media.

''In Narbonne, he brought professionalism and seriousness and had transcended a weakened team. He was adored by Narbonne."

Narbonne club stalwart Sébastien Petit wsaid it was difficult to come to terms with Collins' death.

"I feel a lot of sadness and, frankly, I find it hard to believe," he said.

"I do not have words, but I'm full of images that go through my head. Jerry was next to me in the dressing room. He was a wonderful and endearing type. We can say thank you to him for his contribution."