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Rugby league icon and MND activist Rob Burrow dies aged 41

A member of the public looks at the flowers, messages and other tributes left at Headingley Stadium in Leeds following the death of former Leeds Rhino player Rob Burrow, who suffered from Motor Neurone Disease. Picture date: Monday June 3, 2024. 76403564 (Press Association via AP Images)

Rugby league star and campaigner to combat motor neurone disease (MND) Robert Burrow died on Sunday at the age of 41, almost five years after his MND diagnosis.

Burrow will be remembered as a talented and tenacious rugby player whose track record catapulted him into the ranks of the sport's greats, winning every domestic title there was to win during his career.

In over 492 games for Leeds Rhinos, Burrow won eight Grand Finals, three World Club Challenges and two Challenge Cups and represented England and Great Britain 20 times. Burrow's career highlights include a remarkable solo try in the 2011 Grand Final and a victorious farewell match in 2017 alongside long-time friend Danny McGuire.

However, Burrow’s legacy will also be shaped by the positivity and tireless activism he demonstrated following his MND diagnosis in December 2019. His story,

shared in several BBC documentaries, highlighted the challenges of MND and the unwavering support of his family, especially his wife Lindsey Burrowwho became his main carer.

Burrow's determination to raise awareness and funds for MND led to significant campaigns and initiatives, including the planned Rob Burrow Centre for Motor Neurone Disease in Leeds. Several sports personalities joined Burrow's campaign, raising money for treatment research and awareness of the disease.

The Prince of Wales, who awarded Burrow a CBE earlier this year, wrote on X that Burrow was a “rugby league legend” with a “big heart”.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also praised Burrow as an “inspiration to everyone who met him or heard his incredible story”, while the MND Association praised him as a “consistent and passionate advocate for people with MND”.

Fans and well-wishers from the public paid their last respects to Burrow and left their tributes at Headingley Stadium.