RaboDirect PRO12
Tributes pour in for Spence
ESPN Staff
September 16, 2012
Nevin Spence is sacked by Shontayne Hape, Bath v Ulster, Heineken Cup, The Rec, Bath, England, December 18, 2010
Ulster's Nevin Spence had been tipped for a bright future © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Nevin Spence
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Teams: Ireland | Ulster

Ulster fly-half Ian Humphreys led the tributes to Nevin Spence after the Ulster centre was killed in a farming accident on Saturday.

The 22-year-old died along with his father and brother after falling into a slurry tank on their family farm in Hillsborough, County Down. Humphreys led the tributes on Twitter to his former team-mate, who was a member of the squad that reached the Heineken Cup final last season and was predicted to have a glittering international career ahead of him.

Humphreys wrote: "Devastated to hear the news about Nevin Spence and his brother and dad. Prayers with all his family... RIP Nev, you'll never be forgotten..."

Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll and former Ireland and Munster hooker Jerry Flannery were among the many players to express their shock and sadness at the news.

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

Flannery said: "Terrible news on Nevin Spence, his Brother and their Dad. Offering up prayers for their family and friends, unbelievably sad."

Former Wales winger Shane Williams was also among those to pay their respects on the social media site, writing: "My thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Nevin Spence. A tragic loss. A class act on the field also. RIP."

Tributes also came from notable Northern Irish sportsmen Rory McIlroy and Barry McGuigan.

McIlroy, golf's world number one, wrote on his Twitter account: "Just heard the tragic news of Nevin Spence and his family. Makes you cherish every day you have on this Earth."

Former boxer McGuigan wrote: "Tragic news about Nevin Spence and his family, in County Down Northern Ireland. My deepest heart felt sympathy to his family."

Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson wrote: "Deeply saddened to hear of the tragedy in Hillsborough this evening. My thoughts and prayers are with family at this time of devastation."

Tributes also appeared on a feed representing the British & Irish Lions. The Lions post read: "All our thoughts are with the family and friends of Ulster centre Nevin Spence, his father and brother. Reportedly died in accident."

The board of Celtic Rugby and the RaboDirect PRO12 also expressed their shock and sympathy for what had happened. David Jordan, tournament director said: "My thoughts go out to Nevin's family, Ulster Rugby and the wider rugby community. Nevin was a talented young player with a bright future in Irish and World Rugby. He will be sorely missed by everyone"

John Feehan, CEO added: "This is a very sad day for rugby, Nevin was a rising star for his province and his country. He will leave a lasting legacy within the rugby community in Ireland".

Lives have been lost in the past in accidents at other farm slurry tanks, but the scale of the latest tragedy caused widespread shock. The Ulster Farmers' Union said the tragedy had shocked the entire farming community.

UFU president Harry Sinclair said: "On behalf of all our members, I would like to extend our deepest sympathies to the family involved. This news has shocked the farming community. Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the three men who have so tragically lost their lives.

"We understand that a fourth member of the family has been hospitalised and we pray that they will make a full recovery."

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