Doddie Weir dies, aged 52, after a battle with motor neuron disease

Doddie Weir in action for Scotland – Doddie Weir dies, aged 52, after a five-year battle with motor neuron disease – Tom Hevezi/Getty Images

Former legend of Scotland and Sports Telegraph Columnist Doddie Weir OBE has died at the age of 52 after a five-year battle with motor neuron disease.

Since his diagnosis in 2016, Weir has tirelessly fought for more research and funding on neurodegenerative disease, raising millions through his charity, My Name’5 Doddie Foundation; the “5” is reminiscent of former Lock’s famous Scotland shirt.

Weir’s achievements and service have been enshrined in recent years; Scotland and Wales now compete for the Doddie Weir Cup – including in their Six Nations ties – while the former padlock also has his entry in the Scottish Register of Tartans.

Over the course of a glittering career which peaked with the Lions’ tour of South Africa in 1997, Weir made 61 appearances for Scotland in the back row and won the Premiership with Newcastle Falcons in 1998. After his tenure in the Northeast, Weir returned to his homeland, making nearly 100 appearances for Border Reivers between 2002 and 2005 before his retirement, after which he successfully transitioned into the after-dinner talk.

Following his 2017 diagnosis, Weir was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the 2019 New Year Honors for services to rugby union, motor neurone disease research and the community in the Scottish Borders.

Doddie Weir and Gregor Townsend - PA

Doddie Weir and Gregor Townsend – PA

In the same year Weir was announced as the recipient of the annual Helen Rollason Award, presented during the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year awards show.

Scotland’s lock was selected by fellow Scot and Telegraph columnist Sir Ian McGeechan for a tour of South Africa with Lions in 1997. While Weir’s tour ended prematurely with injury, his swap for the broadcaster John Taylor during Lions media training declined in folklore tour. When asked for his answer to a hypothetical question about being caught in a nightclub after tour curfew, the 6ft 6ins Weir simply replied, “Identity Wrong.”

Weir, born in Edinburgh and educated at Daniel Stewart’s and Melville College in the Scottish capital, has made a name for himself as an athletic forward and dynamic loose operator. Before moving to Newcastle, Weir won six Scottish titles with Melrose RFC at the Borders.

Weir is survived by his wife, Kathy, and three sons, Hamish, Angus and Ben. Just two weeks ago, flanked by his four family members, a wheelchair-bound Weir delivered the ball on the Murrayfield pitch ahead of the Autumn Test between Scotland and the All Blacks.

A Weir family statement signed by Doddie’s wife, Kathy, read: “It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved husband and father, Doddie.

“Doddie was an inspirational force of nature. His inexhaustible energy and drive, and strength of character fueled him throughout his rugby and business career and, we believe, enabled him to battle the effects of MND for so many years.

“Doddie brought that same energy and even more love and fun into our lives together – he was a true family man. Whether working together on the farm, on holidays or celebrating occasions with extended family and friends, Doddie was always at the center of the action. We are lucky to have shared our lives with him and we cherish all those memories: his love and warmth, his support and advice, his wit and his terrible jokes. It’s hard to put into words how much we will miss him.

“MBD took so much from Doddie, but never his spirit and determination. He fought MND so bravely, and while his battle may be over, his fight continues through his foundation, until a cure is found for all who are afflicted with this devastating disease.

“Hamish, Angus, Ben and I would like to thank everyone for your support and for respecting our privacy during this difficult time.”

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