The Nevin Spence Centre, a new education and heritage facility at Kingspan Stadium, the home of Ulster Rugby, has been formally opened.
The centre, is named in memory of former Ulster player, Nevin Spence, who died in a farming accident along with his father Noel and his brother Graham in September 2012.
Housed in the Memorial End Stand, The Nevin Spence Centre contains interactives and audio-visual content and enables visitors to explore the history of rugby in Ulster and the benefits that the game has for players, supporters and society in general.
The centre was designed by leading consultancy Mather & Co. and showcases the science and technology that underpins the game of rugby to fit with the school curriculum (key stages 2-4).
A bespoke interactive gaming zone, developed in partnership with the Movement Innovation lab in the School of Psychology, Queen’s University Belfast, demonstrates performance and match analysis and features avatars created by staff and students at South West College in Enniskillen.
Visitors can also get a sense of what it is like to kick for goal at Kingspan Stadium by having a go at a kicking challenge in an innovative virtual environment, choose their Ulster Rugby dream-team in an interactive game and watch short films showcasing female rugby, disability rugby mini-rugby and the senior Ulster team.
A digital Ulster Rugby vault houses hundreds of digital images of team photographs, minute books and reports from over 100 years of rugby in Ulster.
In addition, The Nevin Spence Centre also contains a number of significant historical items including the lion carried by the unbeaten 1974 British and Irish Lions (loaned by Willie John McBride), Dr Jack Kyle’s Ireland jersey (loaned by the Kyle family) and the old Irish interprovincial trophy.
Bobby Stewart, President IRFU (Ulster Branch), said: “This centre tells the history of rugby in Ulster, while demonstrating the important benefits of a healthy lifestyle and I have no doubt that it will become an important resource for schools and the education community across the province.
The centre is also a vibrant and entirely fitting way to remember Nevin who was so tragically taken from us almost three years ago.
The Nevin Spence Centre opens to the public on 1st September 2015 and is open Monday – Friday from 10am until 5pm.
Visits to the Nevin Spence Centre must be booked in advance.