Thousands turn out to pay respects to Rob Burrow at funeral

Thousands turn out to pay respects to Rob Burrow at funeral

Thousands of people have turned out to pay tribute to Rob Burrow as a private funeral service was held.

Rob Burrow died aged 41 on June 2, 2024, after battling with motor neurone disease for the past four-and-a-half years. He has now been cremated at Pontefract Crematorium following a private service which saw former team-mates, coaches and staff in attendance.

Kevin Sinfield flew back from New Zealand, where he had been in attendance as the skills/kicking coach for England's Rugby Union squad, for the service. Former Leeds players Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Ryan Hall and Matt Diskin were among those also in attendance.

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Sinfield, 43, was granted compassionate leave by England's head coach Steve Borthwick, missing the Saturday match agains the All Blacks. The pair had been close friends and Kevin had helped Rob raise millions of pounds for motor neurone disease.

The date of the funeral, on July 7, is the day Leeds Rhinos celebrate 'Rob Burrow Day' yearly, due to the number seven shirt he had worn while he played for them.

Now, the funeral procession could be seen passing by Featherstone Lions' ground, which was where Rob had played rugby while young, and the procession also slowed again through Featherstone close to where Rob played junior rugby. Five cars were present, with the hearse followed by Rob's wife Lindsey and their three children Macy, Maya and Jackson, along with Rob's parents Geoff and Irene.

The funeral cortege arrives at Pontefract Crematorium
The funeral cortege arrives at Pontefract Crematorium -Credit:Ian Hodgson/PA Wire

The cars travelled all the way to Pontefract Crematorium, passing by family and friends before a haka was performed as Rob was carried from the hearse.

Leeds chief executive Gary Hetherington, speaking to the PA news agency, said: "He was a true inspiration. The whole rugby league community has come together supported by Leeds Rhinos fans and so many others and his efforts over the last four and a half years with MND inspired the nation.

"With so much support from those such as Kevin Sinfield, politicians and other sports figures… it has been quite remarkable and he leaves a huge legacy. This is the final journey, it has been a remarkable chapter.

"We all knew what the outcome would eventually be and Rob has been remarkable with his fight and what he’s been able to do, not only Rob, but his family as well, (wife) Lindsey, the parents, the whole family have come together and have been supported by sport in general.

"It’s brought people together and has moved the nation. He was full of life, full of ambition and full of enthusiasm. Rob was 5ft 4in but was a giant of a man, a giant of a rugby league player and a giant of a person."

Jayne Sinfield and Kevin Sinfield arrive at Pontefract Crematorium
Jayne Sinfield and Kevin Sinfield arrive at Pontefract Crematorium -Credit:Ian Hodgson/PA Wire

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Throughout Rob's career, he scored 195 tries in 492 career appearances for the Leeds Rhinos. He also won eight Super League titles and two Challenge Cups.

He worked to raise awareness of motor neurone disease in his final years and managed to raise £15 million for charity.

Former team-mate Diskin said: "It’s humbling, you can see the affect Rob’s had on the rugby league community, not just Rhinos fans, there are different clubs and fans all lining the streets with respect for Rob not just for his playing days but to see how he met this adversity head on.

"He’s an inspiring man – today will be more emotional than a couple of weeks ago when we celebrated his life at Headingley.

"We’re finally putting him to rest, he’s battled better than most in front of the public eye when most of us would have hid behind closed doors, we finally get to pay him the respect he deserves.

"He inspired millions. It’s a horrible disease and we’ve been unfortunate to see a couple of people now affected with it but Rob was inspiring with it.

"He put himself on show to raise awareness for the community and hopefully find some sort of answers of this. He was a joker, he was very funny individual but also a fantastic rugby player. Some of the moments, we could laugh and cry with the times we’ve had.

"We’ve had some amazing memories to share together, us as a team and his team-mates will say the same. You’ll remember him forever."