Rob Burrow: Rugby league and union fans pay tribute to former player who died of motor neurone disease

To a roaring crowd, the players of both teams in the Challenge Cup final lined up on the grass of Wembley Stadium united by the name and number on the back of their shirts: Burrow, 7.

On a massive day in the rugby league calendar, fans paid tribute to an unlikely star of the game… small, fast and powerful and a Leeds Rhinos player to the core.

But neither of the teams were from Leeds.

Instead it was Warrington Wolves and Wigan Warriors remembering Rob Burrow and everything he achieved both on and off the pitch, with a minute's silence before kick-off - delayed to 3.07pm as another nod to the player.

Then, seven minutes in, the crowd erupted in applause as a picture of Burrow lifting the Challenge Cup for the Leeds Rhinos at Wembley in 2015 filled the screens.

Burrow was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 2019, two years after retiring from the game.

He died last Sunday, aged just 41.

He made it his mission to raise awareness of the destructive disease that robbed him of control over his body, and to raise funds for research to treat and hopefully one day cure it.

Rugby fans attending the games were invited to leave tributes at the Rugby League Legends statue at the stadium.

But the array of colours represented in the scarves, shirts and flags were proof that those leaving items in memory of Burrow represented many different teams.

Warrington Wolves supporters Dennis McQuillan, his son Charlie and grandson Archie were among those paying their respects.

"Seeing Rob's passing has made a massive dent and the rugby league community really comes together in these times," said Dennis.

"I'm impressed that they've done this and I'm very privileged to come and pay tribute to him."

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It's a legacy that transcends any differences between the game's two disciplines… with fans across London at Twickenham also applauding during rugby union's Premiership final at the seven-minute mark.

Back at Wembley, it wasn't just the men marking the passing of the rugby legend.

The women played first - Leeds Rhinos beaten by St Helen's - and both sides donned the shirt emblazoned with these words, which were part of Rob's final message: "In a world full of adversity we must still dare to dream."

And with family and friends continuing his work, the dream of a cure for such a devastating disease lives on.