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Prince of Wales pays tribute to Rob Burrow following the death of the rugby legend at the age of 41

The Prince of Wales described Rob Burrow as a “rugby league legend” who had a “big heart” after his death at the age of 41.

Burrow's former club Leeds Rhinos announced on Sunday evening that their former scrum-half had died after a four-and-a-half-year battle with motor neurone disease.

Burrow was diagnosed with the terminal disease in December 2019 and immediately launched a campaign to raise awareness, raising millions alongside his former teammate and close friend Kevin Sinfield.

William, who awarded both Burrow and Sinfield CBEs in January for their services to MND education, launched the honours with a statement on his official X account.

He wrote: “Rob Burrow, a legend of rugby league, had a big heart. He taught us that in a world full of adversity, we must have the courage to dream. Catherine and I send our love to Lindsey, Jackson, Maya and Macy.”

Former Leeds Rhinos rugby league player Kevin Sinfield (R) hugs his former teammate Rob Burrow
Former Leeds Rhinos rugby league player Kevin Sinfield (R) hugs his former teammate Rob Burrow (Getty Images)

Burrow's long-time former Leeds teammate Jamie Peacock wrote on Instagram: “We all knew this day would come, it was always too soon and none of us wanted to think about it.

“Rob, in a sport where courage, bravery and determination are the qualities of every top player, you were the bravest, bravest and most determined of all.

“And a sense of humor to match. I will always remember you holding court in a dressing room and men twice your size shying away from you because you had an uncompromising sense of humor.

“Becoming an inspiration to thousands and a north star for the MND community, giving hope where there was none before. Never complaining about his condition and situation. An inspiration to us all. Rest in peace mate.”

Rob Burrow is one of the best players of the Leeds Rhinos
Rob Burrow is one of the best players of the Leeds Rhinos (PA Archive)

Former Scottish rugby union international Doddie Weir fought alongside Burrow to raise awareness and fundraise for MND until his death in November 2022 at the age of 52. His charity – the My Name'5 Doddie Foundation – described Burrow on Sunday evening as “a true inspiration”.

The statement said: “We are so sad to hear of the passing of Rob Burrow. Like Doddie, Rob was a true inspiration to people living with MND. Our thoughts are with Lindsey, her children and Rob's family and friends.”

Current Leeds second-row striker Cameron Smith, who played alongside Burrow before he retired in 2017, visited Headingley with fans to pay their respects to his former teammate.

Speak with Sky Sports NewsThe 25-year-old said: “It's a really emotional evening. I find it amazing how many people have come to pay their respects.”

“I thought it was important that we players pay our respects to Rob, who is such a hero. I was lucky enough to play a few games with him. He was my academy coach and taught me a lot about the game and how to be a good teammate and a nice guy.

“He was a truly outstanding player and has left a tremendous legacy here because of how successful he was during his time at Leeds.

Rob Burrow was honored at Headingley
Rob Burrow was honored at Headingley (PA cable)

“He's a truly amazing human being and the awareness he has raised about MND, with the work Kevin (Sinfield) has done while fighting this battle, has been amazing, and the work Kevin will continue to do to raise awareness about MND, not just in the UK but around the world.”

Former Rhinos teammate and close friend Barrie McDermott wrote on social media: “The world will never forget Rob Burrow. He is a hero to so many people and an inspiration to all who were lucky enough to meet him or hear his story on and off the field.

“He made me dance and run like MJ, even though I hate both, but most of all he made me laugh out loud.

“He has been incredibly brave over the last few months. He has taught me so much about courage, kindness and love.

“Goodnight, God bless my little brother. I feel blessed to call you my friend.”

The Darby Rimmer MND Foundation, founded by former Bradford defender Stephen Darby and his close friend Chris Rimmer, also paid tribute to him on social media.

Kevin Sinfield and Rob Burrow raised millions for MND research
Kevin Sinfield and Rob Burrow raised millions for MND research (PA cable)

The post reads: “Everyone at the Darby Rimmer MND Foundation is heartbroken and devastated to hear the sad news that our amazing friend Rob Burrow has passed away. Our thoughts are with Lindsey, Macy, Maya, Jackson and the family. Rest in peace Rob x.”

Former England captain Steph Houghton, who is married to Darby, added: “Devastated doesn't even come close! Words cannot describe our love for Rob!”

“We send all our love to Lindsey and her family! We are always here for you!”

Leeds boxer Josh Warrington joined the Rhinos' statement with a comment, writing: “RIP Rob. He inspired so many. A champion, a legend.”

The Rugby Football League said in a statement on social media: “Rob Burrow was an outstanding rugby league player for his club and country. Since December 2019, his courage and humanity – along with those of his family, friends and former Leeds Rhinos teammates, led by Kevin Sinfield CBE – have transcended the sport.”

RFL chairman Simon Johnson added: “This devastating news has united everyone in rugby league in grief, as well as the many others who have been touched and inspired by the brave response of Rob, his family and friends since his diagnosis in December 2019.

“We will take some time as sporting people to reflect on how best to remember Rob and celebrate his life on our Challenge Cup Finals Day at Wembley Stadium next Saturday when Leeds Rhinos play St Helens in the Betfred Women's Challenge Cup Final.

Rob Burrow in action for Leeds Rhinos
Rob Burrow in action for Leeds Rhinos (PA Archive)

“We committed earlier this year that the Man of the Match in the Men’s Betfred Super League Grand Final would receive the Rob Burrow Award – which will be presented for the first time at Old Trafford in October this year.”

All Super League clubs sent their condolences, with defending champions Wigan writing: “His legacy will live on in those whose lives he touched and his story will continue to inspire all.”

St Helens chairman Eamonn McManus said in a statement on the club's official website: “He has left an indelible mark on our sport. He has also done so much to promote recognition of the terrible disease he suffered and to support research that will save the lives of others in the future.”

“In many ways, he leaves behind an unforgettable and incomparable legacy.”

Hull KR wrote: “Rob was a real fighter on the pitch and a fighter off it until the end. There is only one Rob Burrow,” while city rivals Hull FC added: “In a world full of adversity, we must dare to dream.”

Sky Bet Championship club Leeds United wrote: “Everyone at #LUFC is devastated to learn of the passing of Rob Burrow CBE. Our thoughts are with Rob's family, friends, everyone at Leeds Rhinos and the MND community at this incredibly sad time. RIP Legend.”

Former England bowler Stuart Broad wrote: “Thinking of Rob Burrow's family at this time. Motor Neurone Disease is so cruel. Rob, his family and his community have raised so much awareness and money that we have a chance of finding a cure. I was with him and Lindsey last week, both incredible people.”

Television and radio presenter Dan Walker added: “He was the little guy who had a huge impact on the field and an even bigger impact off the field.

“Rob Burrow taught us so much through his handling of the MND diagnosis and inspired millions with his continued determination to help others despite everything he himself went through. He was a class act. The fight continues.”

Pride of Britain Awards co-presenter Carol Vorderman said: “Rest in peace the amazing Rob Burrow. We had the honour of presenting awards to @Rob7Burrow and his wife Lindsey @PrideOfBritain last year.

“An incredible man and a truly incredible family. My heart goes out to them. With deepest respect.”

P.A.