Former rugby league player Rob Burrow dies from MND aged 41

Former rugby league player Rob Burrow – who once described Doddie Weir as his “MND hero” - had sadly died from the same disease, aged 41. The diagnosis came just two years after he retired from playing, following a stellar 17-year career that included winning eight Super League Grand Finals, three World Club Challenges and two Challenge Cups.

The former Leeds Rhinos player had been battling with motor neurone disease, but has passed away it has been announced. Former Scotland international Doddie, who won 61 caps, died from the disease in 2022 after a six year battle, but not before raising millions to help others with the illness.

The Leeds Rhinos rugby league club announced the news of Rob Burrow's passing in a statement. It read: "It is with deep sadness that we announce the death of our beloved son, husband, father, brother and friend.

"Rob has always been a true inspiration throughout his life whether that was on the rugby league field or during his battle with mnd (motor neurone disease). He never allowed others to define what he could achieve and believed in his own ability to do more.

"The outpouring of love and support that rob and the whole burrow family have received over the last four and half years meant so much to Rob. In particular, the rugby league family and the mnd community have rallied around rob to inspire him, thank you for your support.

"For those who knew Rob throughout his life, his determination and spirit in the face of mnd over the last four and half years came as no surprise. Rob never accepted that he couldn't do something, he just found his own way of doing it better than anyone else.

"He will continue to inspire us all every day. In a world full of adversity, we must dare to dream."

Following confirmation of Burrow's death, the MND Association paid tribute to him in a statement of their own where they also expressed their gratitude for all he did to raise awareness of the disease.

They wrote: "It is with great sadness that the MND Association has learnt of the death of our patron Rob Burrow CBE, four and half years after his diagnosis of motor neurone disease. Our thoughts today are with Rob’s wife Lindsey, children Macy, Maya and Jackson, family and friends and the rugby community.

"Rob, who played at number 7 for Leeds Rhinos, lived with this brutal disease in the public eye after choosing to announce his diagnosis shortly before Christmas 2019.

“He used every opportunity to raise awareness of the disease, speaking publicly, undertaking media interviews and opening his life up in two moving BBC documentaries My Year With MND and Rob Burrow: Living With MND. He remained a consistent and passionate advocate for people with MND.

“He became the first person to use a communications aid to read a bedtime story on CBeebies. And he joined the United To End MND coalition which successfully campaigned for a £50million Government investment in targeted MND research.

"In doing so much, he inspired support from so many. On the weekend of the Challenge Cup Final in October 2020, fans and supporters donated an incredible £70,000 to the MND Association.

“Just two months later, Rob’s former captain Kevin Sinfield CBE took on the first of four incredible challenges raising more than £7 million for MND charities, including the MND Association. Rob and Kev’s friendship made headline news around the world.

“Thousands of well-wishers, not just in rugby’s heartland, but across the country donated, took on fundraising challenges and pledged support in tribute to Rob’s bravery.

"Rob’s contribution to rugby league and awareness of MND were recognised in the 2021 New Year’s Honours List when he was made an MBE and that same year Rob accepted the role of patron of the MND Association.

“Rob was subsequently awarded a CBE in the 2024 New Year’s Honours list. It is testament to the strength of feeling people have for Rob that the support in his name has never wavered.

"The MND Association is incredibly grateful to Rob and his family for helping to raise awareness of MND, and funds for the Association, by sharing the details of their journey and by inspiring so many people both within the MND community and the wider public."

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