About 1500 people rallied in the French city of Narbonne late last night (NZT) to pay tribute to former All Black Jerry Collins, who was killed with his Canadian partner in a car crash on Friday.
Their 4-month-old daughter, Ayla, was critically injured.
The crowd included fellow former All Black Chris Masoe, who sported newly bleached hair - a tribute to his former team-mate, whose similar hairstyle was his trademark.
Many of the others wore the distinctive orange jerseys of the Narbonne Rugby Club, for which Collins was playing.
Earlier, the crowd had staged a procession through the streets. It was organised by the "Amis du Racing", the Narbonne supporters club.
"There was a lot of emotion," said rugby club spokesman Kevin Fathi. "Masoe laid a flower in front of the large photo of Jerry that the Mayor of Narbonne had erected at the stadium. Then there was one minute of clapping, remembering Jerry. People laid flowers. The atmosphere was very calm."
Meanwhile, Collins' family are praying for baby Ayla to keep fighting for her life as they prepare for the return home of "Porirua's favourite son".
Relatives and friends arrived at a Lapeyronie Hospital in Montpellier yesterday to be with the infant, who suffered a brain bleed in the accident.
Two of the visitors were Masoe and another of Collins' former Hurricanes teammates, former All Black Neemia Tialata. The pair later formally identify their friend's body.
"The Samoan community in France is well represented," said Collins' manager, Tim Castles. "They have been to see Jerry, which has been wonderful for his family."
Brenna Smith -- sister of Collins' partner, Alana Madill - had also flown in from Canada to be with the baby, who remained in a critical condition.
Ms Smith posted a message last night saying "Baby Ayla is continuing to fight her battle but I'm encouraged by the smallest positive signs. Keep fighting, my little beauty."
She also thanked everyone who had offered support and love. "We can feel it, even across the ocean".
On Facebook, Collins' cousin Crystal Collins urged Ayla to hang on.
"Little Ayla, precious Ayla, fight little one because your Dad was one hell of a fighter," she said.
"The outpouring of grief and sympathies is already so incredible, but please keep our little Ayla in your prayers."
She said the family would miss Collins badly. "Yes, the rugby world has lost a legend, but a family has lost a son, brother, father, cousin, nephew and friend. Porirua's favourite son is coming home."
Collins' father, To'omata Frank, said the family in NZ spent yesterday at church and doing errands such as grocery shopping in preparation for relatives arriving from Samoa.
"I think the whole lot of them are coming, there's a lot of people," he said. "It's going to be big when he arrives. Everyone will be here."
Mr Castles was continuing to work with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on how to repatriate Collins' body.
At the same time, Ms Madill's father, Darrell Madill, and his wife, Ruth, were preparing to fly to France.
Collins and Alana Madill had lived with her parents at their home in Grande Prairie, Alberta, after the player met his future partner while working as a security guard.
In New Zealand at the weekend, school, club and Super Rugby matches observed a minute's silence before kick-off and all ages of players wore black arm-bands.
Porirua's Northern United club announced that its premier grade team had retired Collins' No 6 jersey for the rest of the season.
Tributes continued to pour in, including from former teammate Zac Guildford, who described Collins as a genuine down-to-earth bloke and a player he looked up to in his younger days.
"He was a great leader and an old-school type of player, on and off the field. Jerry will be a huge loss to the community."
Collins spent his last evening at a tribute function in Perpignan for Samoan rugby star Henry Tuilagi. All proceeds from that event will now go to Ayla.
The crash happened after the couple left the gathering.
Yesterday, French police said they believed Ms Madill had missed the turnoff on the A9 motorway to Narbonne. It was possible she had fallen asleep or looked down to find a cellphone before losing control.
Mayor open to memorial ideas
Talk of a permanent memorial for former All Black Jerry Collins is something Porirua Mayor Nick Leggett is open to - but only once the family has had time to grieve.
Calls to honour Collins with a stadium and a memorial cup named after him have been pouring in on social media following his tragic death in a car crash near Beziers in southern France on Friday night NZT.
His partner Alana Madill was also killed and the couple's baby daughter Ayla is in intensive care in hospital.
A Facebook page calling for Westpac Stadium's aisle six to be named after the rugby great has received more than 11,000 likes.
Another page pushing for Porirua Park to be renamed Jerry Collins Memorial Stadium has received almost 5000 likes and Facebook users have also put forward the idea of renaming the street Collins grew up on.
Mr Leggett said remembering the "Porirua boy" with a permanent memorial was a possible option.
Collins' rugby career kicked off when he was a child in Porirua and he came to be a real "presence" in the community, Mr Leggett said.
"We're open to that but it's a little bit premature because actually we've got to allow people the time to grieve.
"We won't be doing anything without talking to his family and they're actually not in a position to have this discussion at the moment, they just want to get their boy home."
A remembrance book outside Porirua's Te Rauparaha Arena was filling up fast and flowers were piling up, he said.
There was also talk of groups holding candlelit vigils in the city, Mr Leggett said.
Collins was honoured at an exhibition opening yesterday for Porirua's 50th birthday with a photo and his All Blacks jersey on display.
"The groundswell of public support shows you the high regard that Jerry is held in in the Porirua community."
Westpac Stadium chief executive Shane Harmon said renaming aisle six was a nice idea but the organisation would discuss that with the family and Wellington Rugby before any permanent memorial was set up.
"We wouldn't consider anything unless we actually discussed it with the families," Mr Harmon said.
"I think for us it's a bit early but we think it's a very nice idea, it's a sweet idea, and we appreciate the sentiment.
New Zealand Rugby declined to comment.
Fundraising page tributes
A fundraising page for Ayla was set up by Kiwi entrepreneur Derek Handley.
"We lost All Black legend Jerry Collins today and his daughter Ayla lost both her parents. This fund is in his honour and for her future."
Total as of 9pm yesterday: Almost $11,000
Nothing can ever replace your mummy and daddy but we as a nation can try to aid your future sweet little princess. x
Condolences to Jerry's and Alana's families and hope that poor little Ayla can pull through this tragedy to live a strong and healthy life.
As ever the best always seem to go too young. RIP to a great man. Hopefully his daughter will one day realise what a legend her father was.
RIP JC and Alana, may you both rest in peace. May the Lord watch over Ayla and all your families. Fa'amanuia le Atu.
So very sad to hear about one of our greatest suffering such a tragedy. My prayers are with the family and Ayla's full recovery.
A tragedy we all think will never happen to us. You have NZ behind you. Love and light little one xx
So many tributes, so many tears, this is the least I can do for your darling little daughter. RIP
- additional reporting NZME. and Hawkes Bay Today