Community shocked by Spence tragedy

Salisbury Journal: Flowers are laid at Ravenhill Ground in memory of Nevin Spence, who died on Saturday Flowers are laid at Ravenhill Ground in memory of Nevin Spence, who died on Saturday

The Irish rugby union community was unified in mourning over the weekend following the death of Ulster centre Nevin Spence.

Spence, 22, was killed alongside his brother Graham and father Noel in an incident which is believed to have unfolded as the trio attempted to come to each other's aid after falling into a slurry tank at their farm in Hillsborough.

Investigators are still examining the circumstances of the incident in County Down but it is known emergency services went to the farm in Drumlough Road shortly after 6pm on Saturday. Spence was considered one of the up-and-coming stars of the Ulster scene and was tipped as a future Ireland star.

Brian O'Driscoll took to Twitter to post his condolences, writing: "Devastating news about Nevin Spence, his dad & brother. What a wonderful talent he was. Thoughts & prayers go out to his family & friends."

One of Ulster's most famous former players David Humphreys, now the club's director of professional rugby, said he was overwhelmed by the loss of a man he had watched rise through the ranks.

"You just need to listen to some of the conversations with our players over the last 24 hours," he said. "All of us are struggling to come to terms with what has happened.

"On days when nobody else wanted to come in and train, he was there leading from the front. All he wanted to do for the remainder of his career was to stay here, win trophies and be successful for Ulster."

Irish Tanaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) Eamon Gilmore visited Ravenhill to pay his respects on behalf of the Dublin Government.

Gilmore said: "This was a huge tragedy for the family. I want to express my condolences to Mrs Spence, to the family, the two daughters. I grew up on a farm, I understand how something like this could happen. I can picture how it could happen.

"It's a deep tragedy, it's a great loss and I think that everybody on this island of Ireland will express their sympathy with the Spence family."

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