gair rhydd Sport’s Nye Davies pays tribute to the late Nevin Spence, who died this month.
On September 15th, 2012, Ulster Rugby lost one of its greatest young talents, as Nevin Spence tragically died in a farming accident alongside his father Noel (52) and his brother Graham (30).
As well as rugby, Spence also had great talent in association football, in which he was capped by Northern Ireland at U16 level. Ultimately, though, rugby won his heart, and he joined Ballynahinch RFC, where he was part of their 2008/09 season, in which they famously won the quadruple.
During his time with Ballynahinch, Spence won 11 caps for Ireland U20s, scoring four tries. He was awarded his first Ulster cap against the Ospreys in April 2010.
His first full season at senior level was 2010/11, when he made his Heineken Cup debut against Biarritz. That season, he gained international ‘A’ grade honours when he was called up to the Irish Wolfhounds squad for matches against Scotland ‘A’ and England Saxons.
In 2011, he was named Young Player of the Year at the Irish Rugby Football Union Players’ Association Awards.
While he only made 18 appearances for Ulster last season due to injury, he continued his progress in the Ireland jersey, playing against the Barbarians last May.
The death of somebody so talented and so young has come as a shock to everyone across the game. Nevin Spence will be greatly missed by his family, friends, team-mates, and everyone who knew him.