Former Scotland lock Weir dead at 52 after long illness

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Six Nations Championship - Scotland v France - BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Britain - March 8, 2020 Former Scotland international Doddie Weir before the match REUTERS/Russell Cheyne/File Photo

(Reuters) -Former Scotland lock Doddie Weir has died aged 52 after battling motor neurone disease (MND) for the last six years, his family said on Saturday.

Edinburgh-born Weir, who won 61 caps from 1990-2000, revealed his diagnosis in 2017 to raise awareness of the condition.

“Doddie was an inspirational force of nature,” his family said in a statement posted on the Scottish Rugby website.

“His unending energy and drive, and his strength of character powered him through his rugby and business careers and, we believe, enabled him to fight the effects of MND for so many years.

“MND took so much from Doddie, but never his spirit and determination. He battled MND so bravely and, whilst his own battle may be over, his fight continues through his foundation until a cure is found for all those with this devastating disease.”

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon paid tribute to Weir on Twitter.

“This is so terribly sad,” she wrote. “Doddie was one of our nation’s sporting legends, but the brave way he responded to MND surpassed anything ever achieved on the rugby pitch.

“He refused to let it dim his spirit and did so much to help others. My condolences to his loved ones.”

In 2019 Weir was awarded an OBE for services to rugby, MND research and the Scottish Borders community.

“His strength of character was unwavering, inspiring and moving,” World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said in a statement.

“He channelled his determination into fighting his own battle, while also fighting the battle for all MND sufferers through his tireless campaigning and fundraising. Always with a smile. Quite simply, he was a remarkable man.”

In 2017, Doddie and his trustees launched the registered charity, My Name’5 Doddie Foundation to find a cure for MND – the ‘5’ being a reference to his shirt number for Scotland and his club sides Melrose and Newcastle Falcons.

“We lost the most lovable man in the world today! Doddie Weir, we will honour your legacy & find a cure for MND,” former Scotland centre Scott Hastings wrote on Twitter.

Former Wales captain Sam Warburton wrote on Twitter: “Despite knowing his fate, Doddie Weir was an absolute hero and inspiration in adversity and his legacy will be immense. An amazing man. Thoughts are with his family and friends.”

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