Early reports have now been confirmed by the BBC and other news outlets that Nevin Spence, the 22 year old Ulster and Ireland A centre, has died in a tragic farming accident, along with his father and brother. His sister, a talented artist whose paintings of Ulster players were featured on Ulster Rugby Live, is in hospital.
Spence, who’d only just made his return from injury for the Ulster Ravens on Friday, was a highly promising young player who’d already been part of Ireland training squads. Despite his tender years, Nevin Spence had already made 43 appearances for his province and established himself as an important squad member, never more so than when he crossed the whitewash against Bath in the Heineken Cup; his first try for Ulster at a crucial moment. He completed the score practically stood on his head, an example of the whole hearted bravery and determination with which he played, both in attack and defence. Blessed with power and strength in abundance, Nevin was ever ready to take the ball up to make the hard yards, and more than ready to rattle his opponent’s ribs in the tackle. He was also blessed with pace to go with it, making him an ever dangerous strike runner. In all ways he was an ideal athlete, as evidenced by the underage caps he won represented Northern Ireland in football, which he allied to a warrior’s mentality. He should have gone on to serve his province and country for many more years, and it is the game’s loss that he will not.
Nevin Spence also had a life outside of the floodlight’s glare at Ravenhill, if one less well known. A devout Christian, he was also active on his family’s farm and helped to promote Northern Ireland’s dairy industry. He, his brother and his father leave behind as many saddened people there as in the rugby community. Our thoughts and hearts are with his family and friends in what can only be an unimaginably difficult time.
Nevin Spence died on the 15th of September, 2012, aged only 22. May he rest in peace.