Doddie Weir: Leeds Rhinos' Rob Burrow and Kevin Sinfield lead Yorkshire's tributes to rugby legend

Former Leeds Rhinos star Rob Burrow has led the region’s tributes to Doddie Weir, the Scottish rugby legend who has died of motor neurone disease (MND) aged 52.

Mr Burrow struck up a friendship with Doddie Weir after his own diagnosis with MND, a life-limiting condition, and called him his “hero.”

Paying tribute on Twitter, Mr Burrow said: “So sad to hear the news of the passing of my MND hero Doddie Weir.

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"I'm sorry to say, how many more warriors die before this stupid government give the £50m they said they would give.

Doddie Weir, who has died at the age of 52, the Scottish Rugby Union has announced.Doddie Weir, who has died at the age of 52, the Scottish Rugby Union has announced.
Doddie Weir, who has died at the age of 52, the Scottish Rugby Union has announced.

“I'm absolutely gutted to see my friendly giraffe die. You are the reason for being so positive. RIP”

In November 2021 the Government committed at least £50 million to help find new therapies, and eventually a cure, for MND, a condition in which the brain and nerves progressively degenerate.

Mr Burrow’s close friend and former captain Kevin Sinfield, who has completed a number of challenges to raise funds for MND charities, also paid tribute.

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“Doddie was a giant as a player, but his campaigning following his MND diagnosis made him a colossus,” the former Rhinos captain said.

“I am honoured to have been able to call Doddie my friend and I know his spirit lives on in all of us who knew him. He will always be a champion.”

The former Scotland international’s death was announced by his family and the Scottish Rugby Union on Saturday evening.

Weir, who won 61 Scotland caps before retiring in 2004, was diagnosed with MND in 2016 and used his profile to push for better research to be carried out into the disease, as well as appealing for improved care to be given to those afflicted by it.

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Although his battle with MND gradually took its toll, Weir continued his fundraising campaign and set up the ‘My Name’5 Doddie’ foundation.

In a personally signed tweet, the Prince and Princess of Wales wrote: “Doddie Weir was a hero – we are so sad to hear of his passing. His immense talent on the pitch as well as his tireless efforts to raise awareness of MND were an inspiration.

“Our thoughts are with all those who loved him. He will be hugely missed across the entire rugby world.”

The Princess Royal, patron of MND Scotland, said: “What a sad day. Doddie Weir will be greatly missed. He was truly larger than life, determined, generous and humble. He transformed people’s understanding of MND and funding for research.

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“I am so grateful to him and his family for their unselfishness in sharing their experiences. My thoughts and prayers go out to all of his family.”

Sports broadcaster Jill Douglas, MNDF chief executive and a close friend of Weir’s, said the foundation will work to honour his name and deliver on his legacy.