UK & World News
Slurry Deaths: Teams Unite For Nevin Spence
The Ulster, Munster, Leinster and Connaught teams have joined hundreds paying tribute to Nevin Spence at a public memorial service at Ravenhill rugby ground in Belfast.
Mr Nevin, 22, died alongside his brother Graham, 30 and father Noel, 58. They inhaled noxious fumes after entering a slurry pit to reach a dog.
His mother and his two sisters attended the short service which was held on the rugby pitch where he had begun to make his name.
The hard-tackling centre, who also played on the wing, made an impressive 42 appearances for Ulster.
Some had tipped him to succeed the Ireland captain, Brian O'Driscoll.
Ulster captain, Johann Muller read the first lesson (from Psalm 27) and scrum-half, Paul Marshall, read the second (from the 14th chapter of John's Gospel).
Rory Best, the Ulster and Ireland hooker, paid a personal tribute to his popular teammate. Players and fans endorsed his words with a standing ovation.
He said: "Nevin Spence epitomised all that is good in rugby... Nevin was a team player, the sort of player that every team needs but few are lucky enough to find.
"This was obvious every time he ran out at Ravenhill because Nevin loved rugby, loved representing his province, the fans, his neighbours, his church and especially his family.
"This enjoyment of the game meant that Nev was one of the most consistent performers for Ulster over the last two seasons... Nev, we will miss you but we will never forget you."
The Capella Choir from his former school, Wallace High in Lisburn, led the singing of the hymns - The Lord Is My Shepherd and Abide With Me.
The service was conducted by the Rev. Andrew Thompson who is minister of Elmwood Presbyterian Church in Belfast and chaplain of the Ulster rugby team.
At Croke Park in Dublin, Gaelic footballers also held a minute's silence in Nevin's memory, ahead of the All Ireland final between Donegal and Mayo.
In Northern Ireland and in the Republic, sporting rivalries were briefly suspended in remembrance of a promising talent, cruelly cut short in its prime.