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  • jeffreywenhao

No one thought to say hello

It's the 5th death anniversary of one of my favourite rugby players - Jerry Collins. He was a terrific player.

But more than that, Jerry Collins was a real character. From a humble background, Collins always sought to stay connected with the community, even when he became a massive star in rugby. He continued his tradition of running beside Wellington City Council rubbish trucks, where he helped to clear the rubbish while also doubling as an additional means of keeping fit. He refused to be paid for his efforts. When asked about it, he said doing the garbage runs was also an education in "how people treat people". Even though he cleared rubbish for the same people every week for years, it wasn't until he became a household name "that anyone thought t say hello".

Collins played for the New Zealand All Blacks, who were heavy favourites for Rugby World Cup 2007. He even captained the All Blacks in some games. After a shock defeat by France in the quarter-finals, he was spotted by Barnstaple's rugby coach Kevin Squire. Barnstaple was playing in the 5th tier of English Rugby. The players were all amateurs - they not paid a salary, had normal day jobs, and played for the fun of the game. Even though it seemed unlikely, Squire could not resist inviting Collins to come down and watch a game. Collins agreed. What Squire never expected was that Collins didn't just turn up to watch. He came and offered to play for the club. Even more amazing, Barnstaple couldn't register Collins in time for their official first team games. There were regulations which even in the lower tiers of English rugby took time to process. So Collins, a global superstar, played for the reserve team of a 5th tier English club. In the picture above, one of Barnstaple's playes, Trevor Wayborn, injured his neck during the game. With no medical professional on scene, an ambulance was called and the game was called off. Collins sat and waited with Wayborn the entire time it tok for , and gladly obliged the request for a photo.

The next year, Collin was selected for the Barbarians, a sort of Rugby All-stars team, to play the world champions South Africa. Collins chose to wear the red socks of Barnstaple, ensuring their representation on the global game.

There is a Old Chinese saying from a general, 翟公, who experienced massive success and failure throughout life. He realised that when he was successful, so many people crowded around him. When he lost power, people disappeared. And when he became successful again, those same faces reappeared. In his anger, he wrote the following on his door:

“一死一生,乃知交情;一贫一富,乃知交态;一贵一贱,交情乃见" Translated: it means that it is only in life's peaks and troughs that you can only tell the attitude, intentions, and strength of the relationship with another person. I hope that there will be good people by your side in good times and bad. And conversely, that you, the reader, will also be a good friend to others, especially when the chips are down.

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