Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Ballynahinch games off as mark of respect to Spence family

All of today’s matches involving Ballynahinch Rugby Club have been called off as a mark of respect to the Spence family.

Brothers Graham and Nevin played for the ’Hinch and in view of last Saturday evening’s tragic events at the family’s Drumlough Road farm, members of the Ballymacarn Park club were in no mood to line out.

“There is no way we were ever going to be playing this weekend,” said club spokesman John Dickson.

“Sometimes there are bigger issues,” he added.

Three of the seven ’Hinch sides — the Firsts, Fourths and Sixths — were to have faced their Belfast Harlequins counterparts, while the Seconds, Thirds, Fifths and Under-19s were scheduled to play Omagh, Omagh Seconds, Dromore Seconds and Malone U19 respectively.

In each case their scheduled opponents have been wholly supportive.

The same is true of Ulster, who were to have played RaboDirect PRO12 newcomers, Zebre, in Parma last night.

With the PRO12 organisers totally sympathetic to Ulster’s request for a postponement, the Italians had no hesitation in agreeing.

As a mark of respect, too, this week has seen Ulster postpone four important meetings, namely those of the Clubs’ Committee, the Competitions Management Committee, the Disciplinary Committee and IRFU Strategic Review.

And on Wednesday afternoon all ticket sales relating to Ulster matches — including even those online — were closed during the funerals..

They went on sale again on Thursday morning.

However, it was decided that Ulster’s Under 20s, Under 19s, Schools and Youth inter-provincial fixtures would go ahead as planned.

So, too, will the Branch’s domestic programme in which all clubs, with the exception of Ballynahinch, will play as per the fixtures list. Every game being proceeded by a period of silence.

In the midst of adversity, rugby has shown its caring side, with Ballynahinch to the fore in helping with the provision of practical support to keep the Spence’s dairy farm going.

The Ulster Senior League games kick off at 2.30pm and the fixtures are: City of Derry v Queen’s University, Dungannon v Ballymena, Malone v Rainey OB, Instonians v Ards, Armagh v Banbridge.

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