Fellow motor neurone disease sufferer and campaigner Rob Burrow paid tribute to an inspirational “warrior” Doddie Weir following his death at the age of 52.
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.
So sad to hear the news of the passing of my mnd hero Doddie Weir. I'm sorry to say, how many more warriors die before this stupid government give the 50m they said they would give. I'm absolutely gutted to see my friendly giraffe die. You are the reason for being so positive RIP
— Rob Burrow MBE (@Rob7Burrow) November 26, 2022
Although his battle with MND gradually took its toll, Weir continued his fundraising campaign and set up the ‘My Name’5 Doddie’ foundation.
While Weir never played the 13-man code, he developed a close relationship with Super League club Leeds Rhinos after their former player Burrow was diagnosed with MND in 2019.
Like Weir, Burrow has also raised awareness of MND through considerable charity work.
Earlier this month, Weir met with former Rhinos player Kevin Sinfield at the start of his ‘Ultra 7 in 7’ challenge, when he ran seven ‘ultra marathons’ in as many days for MND-related causes.
In a Twitter post, Burrow said: “So sad to hear the news of the passing of my mnd hero Doddie Weir.
“I’m sorry to say, how many more warriors die before this stupid government give the 50m they said they would give.
“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.
Sinfield also paid tribute to Weir.
“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.”
In a statement released via the SRU, Weir’s family spoke of his determination through adversity.
“Doddie was an inspirational force of nature. His unending energy and drive and his strength of character powered him through his rugby and business careers and, we believe, enabled him to fight the effects of MND for so many years,” the Weir family statement read.
“Doddie put the same energy and even more love and fun into our lives together: he was a true family man. It is difficult to put into words how much we will miss him.
“MND took so much from Doddie, but never his spirit and determination.
“He battled MND so bravely and whilst his own battle may be over, his fight continues through his foundation until a cure is found for all those with this devastating disease.”
A popular and inspiring figure, Doddie Weir leaves an incredible legacy for so many to follow
He will be missed by the rugby family and the MND community
Our thoughts are with his family, friends and all those who were inspired by his bravery 💙
Rest in peace Doddie pic.twitter.com/ac7pfH5NAA
— World Rugby (@WorldRugby) November 26, 2022
World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont paid tribute to a “remarkable man”.
Beaumont said: “Today, the rugby family mourns one of its most inspirational members. His strength of character was unwavering, inspiring and moving.
“He channelled his determination into fighting his own battle, while also fighting the battle for all MND sufferers through his tireless campaigning and fundraising. Always with a smile. Quite simply, he was a remarkable man.”
Doddie Weir’s foundation has paid tribute to the former Scotland international’s drive and determination in the battle against MND.
We're deeply saddened to share the news that our founder Doddie Weir has died. Doddie was a force of nature, a great family man, tremendous rugby player & loved & respected by all who knew him. Our love & best wishes are with his family.
— My Name'5 Doddie Foundation (@MNDoddie5) November 26, 2022
Jill Douglas, the foundation’s chief executive, said: “Doddie enjoyed a full life, full of fun and love. And it was this approach to life which shone through in his determination to make a difference and help others when he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease.
“He inspired us every day with his positivity and energy and was fully committed to the work of the foundation he launched with his close friends in November 2017.
“My Name’5 Doddie Foundation continues to shine a light on MND and the need to seek meaningful treatments and, one day, a cure for this devastating disease.
“And our vision of a world free of MND remains at the heart of our strategy. As we look to the future, we will honour Doddie’s name and deliver on his legacy.”
The England Rugby family are deeply saddened by the passing of one of the game’s greats in Doddie Weir. A true character on and off the field. He will be greatly missed. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time.
Rest in peace Doddie. https://t.co/SkfBkWaYC9
— Rugby Football Union (@RFU) November 26, 2022
There was a minute’s applause at half-time during England’s match against South Africa at Twickenham after the news of Weir’s death had been announced to the crowd.
A statement from the RFU read: “The England Rugby family are deeply saddened by the passing of one of the game’s greats in Doddie Weir.
“A true character on and off the field. He will be greatly missed. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time.”