Ulster game with Zebre off after death of player Nevin Spence

Ulster's Pro12 match away to Italian club Zebre on Friday has been called off following the death of player Nevin Spence in a farming accident.

The 22-year-old centre died alongside his brother Graham and father Noel in an incident at the family's farm near Hillsborough, County Down, on Saturday.

A moment of silence is to be observed at all of the Pro12 matches being played this coming weekend.

A new date will be arranged for the Zebre v Ulster fixture in Parma.

Spence was considered one of the up-and-coming stars of the Ulster team and had been widely regarded as a future Ireland international.

The talented player died along with his 30-year-old brother, Graham, who was married with two children, and their 52-year-old father, Noel.

A book of condolence was opened at Ulster's Ravenhill ground on Monday.

Players and club officials visited the Spence family on Sunday night to pass on their condolences.

David Humphreys, director of professional rugby at the club, said he was overwhelmed by the loss of a man he had watched rise through the ranks.

"There was huge potential," he said, citing highlights of a career already packed with achievement.

But he also recalled Nevin as a player who was hugely popular off the pitch, and added: "You just need to listen to some of the conversations with our players.

"All of us are struggling to come to terms with what has happened."

All club and representative teams in Ireland will observe a minute's silence and fly their club flag at half mast this weekend to honour the memory of Nevin Spence, his brother and father.

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