THE rugby clubs of North Petherton and Bridgwater & Albion joined forces on Friday night to pay their respects to Jason Collard.

Collard, known as ‘JC’, passed away last week and tributes have flooded in for a much-loved figure on the local sporting scene.

Collard played through the age groups at North Petherton RFC and later represented the club’s senior teams as well as becoming an integral part of the coaching set-up at Beggars Brook.

A minute’s silence preceded Friday night’s derby, which was watched by nearly 800 spectators, and North Petherton dedicated their 9-7 win to Collard.

North Petherton first team manager Andrew Ford said: “JC was a classic club man.

“He played for the club all his life and was instrumental in setting up our ladies’ section. He coached the team for four years and helped get them off the ground.

“JC would never miss a home game, whether it was first team, second team, ladies or Colts.

“He would always be in the same spot in the bar afterwards and would always be there for a chat.

“If you cut him, he would have black and white running through him.

“There was a lot of emotion on Friday night – some of the Bridgwater players also knew JC very well, having previously played at North Petherton – and it was a fitting occasion.

“He was a coach, friend, colleague and mentor to a lot of our players. Not enough words can be said about JC.”

Bridgwater & Albion team manager Geoff Sluman echoed Ford’s thoughts and said: “Perhaps it was fitting that the result went to Pethy, as the club and the wider rugby community had some bad news earlier in the week when Jason Collard sadly passed away at a much too young an age.

“JC was known to many of us and the minute’s silence before the game was a reflective time.

“There was a large crowd and total silence was observed.

“Sport in general, but I think particularly the rugby community, does unite and come together at such times - even when local rivalries are involved.

““In the words of one of our Bridgwater players; ‘JC was a local legend, a truly great bloke, who never had a bad word to say about anyone’.

“We give our respects to North Petherton and our condolences and deepest sympathy to JC’s family on their loss.”

Collard was also a keen supporter of North Petherton Cricket Club during the summer months.

A club statement said: “North Petherton Cricket Club are truly saddened by the sudden loss of Jason Collard.

“A great and always positive supporter of the club, he will be sorely missed.

“Our collective thoughts go out to his family at this difficult time.”