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Rugby legend and surprise Barnstaple player Jerry Collins dies

Jerry Collins once turned out for Barnstaple. Credit: Reuters

An international rugby superstar who once made a shock appearance for Barnstaple's second team has been killed in a car crash.

Jerry Collins, 34-year-old former captain of New Zealand's All Blacks, died in a crash in southern France between his car and a bus early this morning, along with his wife. Their three-month-old daughter is in a critical condition in hospital.

In 2007 Collins was staying with friends in North Devon. A chance meeting with Barnstaple's director of rugby meant he ended up coaching the team's young players one night and playing for the second team at Newton Abbot the next day - in a game they were winning until it was abandoned due to an injury.

The All Black later wore his red-and-white Barnstaple socks in an invitational against then World Champions, South Africa.

Barnstaple Rugby described Collins as a "wonderful man" with a "heart of gold" in an emotional tribute on Facebook today.

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Mascot madness at Sandy Park

Mascots in Unison at Sandy Park Credit: Azure Photography

Famous mascots from across Devon joined forces at Sandy Park for some half time fun to celebrate the Rugby World Cup coming to Devon.

The Exeter Chiefs v London Welsh rugby match hosted the mascots from the top attractions throughout the county.

Mascots in Unison at Sandy Park Credit: Azure Photography

This event symbolises the way forward for Devon tourism and demonstrates local tourism businesses putting on a united front and working together across the South West.

We had tourist attractions, accommodation providers, local public transport and charities all joining together to promote the Rugby World Cup and all that Devon has to offer.

– Simon Fishwick, Chairman of Devon’s Top Attractions

RUGBY: Six-year-old Harry sings for England

England mascot Harry Westlake belts out the National Anthem at Twickenham Credit: PA

A new star of rugby was born at the weekend - and he's only six years old .

Harry Westlake, from Plymouth was the England mascot for the Six Nations tie against Italy.

He won the hearts of millions with the passionate way he belted out the National Anthem.

We asked him for an encore - and he duly obliged.

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Parling excited by new challenge at the Chiefs

It’s an exciting move for me and a new challenge at the Chiefs that I’m very much looking forward to. I’ve spoken to one or two people about the club and the area and it’s all been very positive. Of course it will be a change of scenery for me and my family, but it’s a new chapter in my career and one that we’re keen to take on.

– Geoff Parling

Parling joins Exeter Chiefs on two-year deal

Exeter Chiefs have announced the signing of England and British Lions second row Geoff Parling on a two-year contract.

The 31-year-old has signed from Leicester Tigers where he helped the East Midlands club to twice lift English rugby’s Premiership title, as well as featuring in all three Test matches for the Lions against Australia in 2013.

Parling who has 21 England caps has signed a two-year deal Credit: David Davies/PA Archive/Press Association Images

He is the second player to leave Leicester Tigers for the Devon club joining former club-mate, Thomas Waldrom at Sandy Park.

Read the full press release here.

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