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Thursday Sep 20, 2012

Tributes pour in for young talent Nevin Spence - 1990-2012

Tributes pour in for young talent Nevin Spence - 1990-2012

Hundreds turned out at Ballynahinch Baptist Church to pay respects to the Spence family following the devastating deaths of young Nevin, his brother Graham, and their father Noel. While we’ve covered the story on social media, today we acknowledge the passing of three great men with a short tribute and video summing up events.

On Saturday evening Ulster rugby player Nevin Spence died alongside his father and brother after they fell into a slurry tank on the family farm. Sister Emma tried to save the men, who were attempting to save one another, but she inhaled fumes herself and was taken to hospital to recover.

She paid tribute to the men at the funeral service yesterday. “They were gentlemen. They were hard-working men. They were not perfect, but they were genuine. They were best friends.”

Emma said that ‘wee-Nev’ was sarcastically nicknamed ‘Superstar’ at home, because they all knew he was destined for great things, but he hated the limelight, even if he did handle it like a pro.

Nevin’s coffin, draped in his team jersey, was carried into the church by his Ulster teammates.

While we talk about rugby and focus on Nevin, this was not only a sporting and farming tragedy, but a human tragedy. To have three family members go in a matter of minutes… fathers, brothers, sons, is devastating beyond belief.

It has touched many not only in Northern Ireland, but all over the world. Tributes continue to pour in as days after the accident, many still find it difficult to comprehend.

World number one golfer Rory McIlroy has said he’s been hit hard by what has happened.

“He will always be remembered. He was a great rugby player and I think everyone will agree he was an even better person and he will definitely be long in the memory of a lot of people,” he said.

Slurry is a mixture of cow manure and water, used as a natural fertiliser. The gases generated when it decomposes in slurry tanks can be lethal. It’s believed that one of the men tried to rescue a dog from a tank, which led to another trying to help, and Nevin and Emma getting involved too.

Nevin, who by all accounts would have gone on to represent Ireland, was just 22. His brother Graham was 30, and has two young children. Father Noel was 58.

Ulster’s match against Zebre has been postponed as a mark of respect. A book of condolence is open at Ravenhill until the end of the week, so if you’re in the area and are able to stop by to pay your respects, please do. It’s open from 9am to 5pm if you would like to leave a tribute.

Below is a video compiled of some of the news reports from the past few days, and some footage of Nevin in action. Please feel free to leave a comment about Nevin or his loved ones below. RIP.

Credit to BBC for their news reports and footage


  • runningrugby4
    7:06 AM 22/09/2012

    i was absolutely gutted when i found out about this. My condolences for his family. i never liked ulster that much but now, i support them in the heineken cup

  • filth
    8:56 AM 21/09/2012


  • danknapp
    6:32 AM 21/09/2012

    RIP all three men. A real tragedy for your family. My thoughts are with your immediate and rugby families.

  • pretzel
    12:32 AM 21/09/2012

    Sort of puts everything into perspective... We all have our hemispheres, our continents, our nations, teams etc, but regardless of your orientations in those terms it is sad. I have to say I've never noticed Nirvin play as I suppose I didn't watch the matches he played in, but from all the hype that I see has surrounded him at the time of his passing I can only imagine he was someone for the Irish future. It is a tragedy for the rugby community, the farming community, and of course the Spence family. Condolences with everyone affected.

  • ulsterrugbycanda
    10:51 PM 20/09/2012

    Having met Nevin, no doubt that he was a man of Godly character, in addition to a brilliant rugby talent, who always played with a bravery few men can boast. Praise God for his faith an example to other young men, and thank God that rugby is the sport of heaven. SUFTUMan

  • moddeur
    10:03 PM 20/09/2012

    Godspeed on your trip back to the stars, Nevin.

  • joeythelemur
    6:53 PM 20/09/2012

    Heartbreaking, thanks for posting this tribute. These men, brothers, sons, fathers, died trying to help each other. No surprise that Nevin was such a bright light in the rugby community as he embodied the character that we all wish to have, both on and off the pitch. Sacrifice, humility, hard work, community. RIP.

  • guy
    1:16 PM 20/09/2012

    Very sad for rugby in general, absolutely devastating for the family and friends of all three victims. RIP from the Netherlands. Pretzel: thanks for mentioning this in the previous post. RD: thanks for posting this item. This might be one of the view topics on which all readers will agree. Just very, very, very sad...

  • colombes
    12:31 PM 20/09/2012

    sad news for rugby RIP from france


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