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Obituary: Mike Collins

Bristol Bears regret to announce the death of former Bristol player Mike Collins.

One of the club’s greatest ever wingers, he played in 303 first team games from 1961 to 1971, scoring 146 tries and kicking occasional goals. He played for various local selections against major touring teams, and he was most unfortunate never to be recognised at international level.

Michael Raymond Collins was a powerful and speedy runner with a fine swerve and a devastating handoff, while he was also valued for his courageous tackling. He played his early rugby with Bristol Saracens and joined Bristol in the 1961-62 season, winning his United cap, first team cap and club blazer in consecutive years.  Mike was part of the Bristol team which won the club’s 75th Anniversary Sevens in 1962, and a season later he played for the Western Counties XV which lost an entertaining game at Bristol against the All Blacks, scoring a try in the 22-14 defeat.

Mike faced New Zealand again in 1967 when they played the South of England, and he was in the Western Counties team which beat Australia a season earlier. He also played in the Western Counties team which drew with South Africa and in the side which defeated Fiji. During his career he made 46 appearances for Gloucestershire, playing in the losing county final teams of 1970 and 1971 and at one time acting as county captain. He later played for Somerset.

Mike scored many memorable tries during his Bristol career. He scored a hat trick in a sensational victory at Gloucester in the 1969-70 season, and he marked his 300th appearance with a try in Bristol’s remarkable 32-6 win at Bath in 1971. Shortly after this his work took him away from Bristol, and he made his final appearance at home to Liverpool in the last game of the 1970-71 season. He then played two seasons for Rosslyn Park.

It seems strange that a player of Mike’s quality and consistency did not get even a full England trial during his time with Bristol. In his first season with Rosslyn Park he did receive a belated call-up to an area trial at Exeter, but although he was the outstanding winger in this game, his talents were once again ignored.  

In retirement, Mike lived in Bath, regularly attending reunions of former players. He was married to Sue, the daughter of popular former Bristol player and committeeman Peter Storkey. All at Bristol Bears send their sincere sympathy to Sue and the rest of the Collins family at this very sad time.