Three months on since the rugby world was hit with the devastating news that former all black Jerry Collins and his wife had died in a fatal car crash in southern France, The 34 year old’s former club The Ospreys dedicated their first home game of the season to their teammate. During his time at the Liberty he gained 56 caps, named player’s player of the year and won the Magners league with the region the same year.
The Ospreys took the home advantage to pay their respects, retiring the number 6 jersey at the game with Joe Bearman the starting 6 wearing an unnumbered shirt. Captain of the Ospreys and Munster laid wreaths on the jersey laid respectfully on the pitch. With Collin’s daughter left orphaned at only three months old, collection buckets around the stadium filled for “The Jerry Collins Fund”.
A minute’s silenced ended in an erupting applause and chants of “Jerry!Jerry!Jerry!” filling the stadium, making the hairs on the back of your neck stand to attention and not leaving a dry eye in the house. The impact he made at the club and legacy he left was evident with supporters sharing their memories, photos and showing as much support and love as they could. Players’ tried to hold back their emotions and applauded with the crowd after the game.
Although through devastating circumstances, its scenes like this show you the softer side of rugby. It’s not just a game, and they are not just players. We looked at Jerry as a hero. He played his heart out in that Ospreys jersey every time he put it on! We cheered with him, we counted our losses with him, and came out with a title! He was an admirable player who helped the youngsters and was a hit with supporters, joking around in the clubhouse, posing for photos, signing autographs! An adopted Welshman, his beautiful playing style made us watch him! Everytime he had the ball along came the Jerry chants.
Hard hitting tackles, and seeing a former All Black play for your club! So humble and so friendly! A legend is a word to often thrown about, but rightfully deserved by this man! RIP JC, you legend!