Round-up: Ulster fans gather to pay tribute to Nevin Spence

 

Thousands of rugby fans gathered at Belfast's Ravenhill ground to pay tribute to the Ulster centre Nevin Spence, who died last Saturday aged 22, along with his brother and father, in a farming accident.

Ulster rugby chaplain Rev Andrew Thompson said they mourned the loss of one of "our brightest and best", while Rory Best, a former hooker for the province, said: "The mark Nevin left runs deeper than rugby."

Brian Smith, the London Irish director of rugby, believes his side can kick-start their season after Saturday's 29-22 win over Bath at the Madejski Stadium.

"It is a good win and I think we can get a lot of momentum from this. We have to keep our feet on the ground," said Smith, after they had begun the day without a win in three Premiership matches.

Sale Sharks have announced the departure of forwards coach Steve Scott with immediate effect, after a dismal start to the season, in which they have lost all four games.

The Northampton director of rugby, Jim Mallinder, admitted his side were far too relaxed in a second half as they held off a late Worcester comeback to win 37-31 at Franklin's Gardens. "We made a few changes and disappointingly they got back in the game," Mallinder said.

The New Zealand captain, Richie McCaw, will take a break from rugby after playing England in November, invoking a clause in his contract allowing him to take a sabbatical in order to prolong his career until the 2015 World Cup.

He will miss the entire 2013 Super Rugby season for the Canterbury Crusaders and the All Blacks' Tests in June.

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