Ulster centre Nevin Spence was killed along with his father and brother in a tragic farm accident on Saturday.
The 22-year-old centre was a rising star in the Irish rugby world and was viewed as a potential long-term replacement for Brian O'Driscoll.
While working on the family farm in Hillsborough, County Down on Saturday, Spence's father fell into the slurry pit. Rumours suggest that he was attempting to rescue the family dog, who had fallen into the pit beforehand.
Reports indicate that Nevin and his older brother Graham—a father of two—entered the pit in a bid to rescue their father. Emergency services were called to the farm around 6 p.m. on Saturday evening, but they were unable to rescue the men before they had passed away. Emma Spence—Nevin's sister—was taken to a hospital, where she was treated for fume inhalation and has since been released.
Tributes have flooded in for the young star and his family.
Irish captain Brian O'Driscoll said "Devastating news about Nevin Spence, his dad and brother. What a wonderful talent he was. Thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends."
This was mirrored by the sentiments of Nevin's fellow Northern Irish sportsman Rory McIlroy, who tweeted, "Just heard the tragic news of Nevin Spence and his family. Makes you cherish every day you have on this Earth."
As a rugby-following individual who lives in Ulster, I hear many stories regarding the conduct and personalities of the members of the Ulster team. It is no exaggeration to say that every word I had ever heard about Nevin Spence was in a positive light. He was regarded as a well-spoken, respectful and committed young man with a huge talent and a very bright future. His loss—and the loss of his family members—is a shocking and tragic blow to his local area, the Ulster team, the Irish sporting community and to Rugby in general. May they rest in peace.