Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

Ringland backs rugby family to rally in support of a community in mourning

Book of condolence opened at Ravenhill rugby ground for Ulster rugby star Nevin Spence along with his brother Graham and father Noel who died in a slurry tank accident on the family farm outside Hillsborough in Co. Down. Tributes placed at Ravenhill
Book of condolence opened at Ravenhill rugby ground for Ulster rugby star Nevin Spence along with his brother Graham and father Noel who died in a slurry tank accident on the family farm outside Hillsborough in Co. Down. Tributes placed at Ravenhill
Tributes left at Ulster Rugby's home ground Ravenhill for Nevin Spence and his family.

Trevor Ringland, like Nevin Spence, played his rugby for a country club.

While in his case it was Ballymena. Nevin’s club was Ballynahinch.

Those clubs are similar in key ways — rural and with a membership largely made up of locals, many of them of farming stock.

The game they play and the lives they lead are closely inter-twined, not least because both rely on team-work.

Like Nevin Spence, Ringland was a big, strong, hard, fast back. His style was not dissimilar to the 22-year-old being mourned by rugby supporters throughout the country and beyond.

And now the former, Ballymena, Ulster, Ireland and Lions wing is hoping that the sense of togetherness on which rugby always has prided itself will count when it matters most.

“I think rugby always has looked upon itself as a family, so, as with any family, it will come together to help at a time like this,” he forecast.

“I believe they will do everything they can to help the Spence family as they try to work through this tragedy.

“This is just such a terrible tragedy for Nevin's mother and the family; to lose her two sons and her husband as well is just so sad.”

Among the many strings in his bow these days, Belfast-based solicitor Ringland is committed to using sport as a medium through which to bring previously divided people together. It was in that capacity that he recently teamed up with Nevin at Seaview, the home of Crusaders Football Club.

“I was fortunate to meet Nevin again when he came along to the Belfast Interface Games, at Crusaders, with Rory Best and Iain Henderson,” Ringland recalled.

“All of those involved in sport — Ulster Rugby, the Irish FA, the GAA, Peace Players International — know that Nevin went along to the Interface Games to give his support to that attempt to build a better society.

“I think that really says it all about the sort of person he was. He was a lovely young man, which is why this is all so very sad.”

Summoning those from what he called “the rugby family”, he continued: “I believe the members of that family will come together to help, not only at this time, but into the future as well. I think rugby will do what it can to help.”

“I keep coming back to the concept of rugby being a family because in my experience that’s what it is. It is about people working together as a team, looking out for one another and helping each other in whatever way they can.

“It’s those who it impacts on most severely who will need most help and it’s up to others to try and get them through that sense of loss.

“Rugby is a community and it will assist, in whatever way it can, those who are hurting most.”

He also expressed the belief that those from the Hillsborough area would lend support to their stricken friends and neighbours, adding that the triple tragedy which has befallen the Spence family will have come as a huge blow to many.

“Farming communities are close-knit so this will have a major impact on the people in that area. I doubt if you ever fully get over something like that; certainly it will take time for the wounds to heal,” he said.

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