Doddie Weir’s foundation has paid tribute to the former Scotland international’s drive and determination in the battle against motor neurone disease following his death at the age of 52.
Weir’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.
He spent his later years raising awareness of the condition and funds to find a cure and help other people affected.
He did this through the establishment of the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation.
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.
“The Foundation has raised significant funds through the amazing efforts of our incredible supporters and has committed £8million to MND research over this time.
“We have also given considerable funds to people living with MND and their families to help them live as fulfilled a life as possible.
“With Doddie’s enthusiasm and drive, we have collaborated with other stakeholders within the MND community and firmly established the foundation as a trusted, influential and well-supported charity.
“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.
“There is much still to do and, with your support, we will continue our work, remaining true to the values and ambition of our founder.”
Rugby league club Leeds Rhinos also paid tribute to Weir for his charity work in the fight against MND.
Weir never played the 13-man code but developed a close relationship with the Super League club after former Rhinos player Rob 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.
A Rhinos statement read: “It is with deep sadness that the club has learned of the passing of rugby union star and MND campaigner Doddie Weir OBE.
“Weir was diagnosed with MND in 2016 and has spent his time since tirelessly campaigning for new ways to treat and eventually cure the disease.
“When Leeds Rhinos legend Rob Burrow was diagnosed with MND in December 2019, the first person he spoke to with MND was Doddie.
“Doddie has been a constant source of strength to Rob. The pair, along with footballer Stephen Darby, gave MND a public face thanks to the work of BBC Breakfast and that has led to a ground shift in what the general public know about MND and how we continue that conversation.
“Doddie was loved by everyone. Our thoughts and prayers are with all Doddie’s many friends and especially his wife Kathy and their three sons, Hamish, Angus and Ben and all their family. Rest in peace Doddie and thank you.”
Sinfield also paid tribute to Weir.
“Today is a deeply sad day for everyone who knew Doddie but especially his family, who are at the forefront of our thoughts,” he said. “Doddie was a giant as a player but his campaigning following his MND diagnosis made him a colossus.
“I know, on behalf of the whole Ultra 7 in 7 team, it was our ultimate honour that Doddie was at Murrayfield just two weeks ago when we set off on our fundraising challenge.
“The fact that a proportion of the money raised from the Ultra 7 in 7 will go to the foundation set up by Doddie has particular poignancy as we look to continue his legacy on in the years ahead.
“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.”
One of Weir’s former clubs, Newcastle Falcons, whom he helped to the Premiership title in 1998, also offered condolences.
A statement read: “It is with desperate sadness that Newcastle Falcons has learned of the passing of our former player and lifetime friend, Doddie Weir OBE.
“A legend as a player, Doddie helped the Falcons ascend into the top flight and was an instrumental part of the squad which lifted the 1997-98 Premiership title – still the only team to achieve this remarkable feat the first season after promotion.
“It was our honour to display his foundation’s logo on the front of our shirts when we played at St James’ Park in front of a club record crowd of more than 30,000 in 2018, and to play our part in supporting their incredible fundraising activity.
“All associated with Newcastle Falcons would like to express our sadness at hearing the news of Doddie’s passing, whilst at the same time remembering the many happy memories and good times of which he was a central part.”
Wales head coach Wayne Pivac began his post-match press conference following a 39-34 Autumn Nations Series defeat against Australia in Cardiff by paying tribute to Weir.
“On behalf of the Welsh rugby public and the Welsh national team, we would like to send our condolences to Doddie’s family,” Pivac said.
“A terrific man, I was fortunate enough to meet him after a Scotland-Wales game.
“He has done a lot for the game, and our condolences go out to his family and friends.”