Over 5,000 people turned out in Belfast’s Ravenhill grounds yesterday to pay their final respects to Nevin, Graham and Noel Spence in what was a moving tribute to one of Ulster and Ireland’s rising stars.
Ulster rugby chaplain Rev. Andrew Thompson told between five and six thousand fans that they had come to mourn one of our “brightest and best.”
“Whilst the main focus is to remember Nevin, we are mindful of his father and brother. These three men shared so much in life and were united in death,” he said.
The three men had tragically died in a slurry tank accident while trying to save the family dog’s and each others’ lives last Saturday.
The entire community and wider rugby world had been left in shock and disbelief but he added comfortingly that people were standing ‘shoulder to shoulder’.
Examples of this communal effort were plain to see at the service as Ulster rugby captain Johann Muller and scrum half Paul Marshall both read from the bible. Members of the Leinster, Munster, Connaught and Ireland rugby panels were also present at the service, including Brian O’Driscoll and Paul O’Connell.
Rory Best also spoke poignantly of his memories of Nevin.
“The mark Nevin left runs deeper than rugby. Nevin would tell ridiculous jokes and then be beaming from ear to ear. No one could work out whether he was a comic genius or told really bad jokes.
“’All you need is a girl who looks like Cindy Crawford and is able to calf a cow in the middle of the night’, he’d joke.
“Nevin was a team player, the sort of player every team needs but few are lucky to have. His memory will continue to shape Ulster rugby for years to come. Nev, we will miss you but we will never forget you.”
Nevin was capped 43 times for Ulster, played for the Ireland U20s and also received a call up for last year’s six nations.
The accident at the farm is being investigated by the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland.
Minute’s silences were observed at every game at the weekend and Leinster fan’s also showed their respect with a rendition of Stand Up For The Ulstermen.