Rob Burrow death confirmed as Leeds Rhinos legend passes after MND battle

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Rob Burrow, a Leeds Rhinos legend and a hero to the MND community, has died

Leeds Rhinos have today (Sunday) announced the death of club legend Rob Burrow, aged 41. Rhinos said the eight-time Super League Grand Final winner “passed away peacefully at Pinderfield’s Hospital near his home surrounded by his loving family after becoming ill earlier this week”. Burrow was diagnosed with motor neurone disease (MND) in December 2019.

Burrow played his entire career with Leeds Rhinos, winning every domestic honour as part of the club’s golden generation which dominated rugby league from 2004-2017. He played 492 times for Rhinos from 2001 to 2017, placing him in fifth in the club’s all-time list of career appearances and scored 1,103 points including 196 tries.

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He was capped 15 times by England and played five more Tests for Great Britain. He won the Challenge Cup at Wembley in 2014 and 2015 as well as three World Club Challenges and three league leaders’ shields. A member of Leeds’ Super League-winning side in 2004, his try in the 2011 victory over St Helens is regarded as the best ever in a Grand Final.

Following his MND diagnosis Burrow became national campaigners to raise awareness and funds for the MND community. Since then Burrow has inspired two award winning documentaries, wrote a best selling autobiography, hosted an award winning podcast and was awarded a CBE from HRH Prince William at AMT Headingley in January 2023.

Along with his friend and former team mate Kevin Sinfield, Burrow has inspired nearly £20 million in fundraising across the UK and Ireland. This has included raising over £6 million to build the Rob Burrow Centre for MND in Leeds as a lasting legacy for those who follow him in their own personal battles with the disease.

‘Deep sadness’

A Rhinos spokesman said: “On behalf of the Burrow family, we would like to thank the staff at Pinderfields Hospital for their compassion and caring for Rob in his final days. Fittingly, as a tribute to the incredible work done by Rob, the groundbreaking of the new Rob Burrow Centre for MND at Seacroft Hospital on Monday will go ahead as planned at Rob's request. At this time, we would ask that everyone respect the privacy of the Burrow family.”

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Rhinos tonight opened the gates of the South Stand at Headingley Stadium for visitors to come to pay their respects in person.

A Rhinos statement said: “It is with deep sadness that we announce the death of our beloved son, husband, father, brother and friend. Rob has always been a true inspiration throughout his life whether that was on the rugby league field or during his battle with MND (motor neurone disease). He never allowed others to define what he could achieve and believed in his own ability to do more.

“The outpouring of love and support that Rob and the whole Burrow family have received over the last four and a half years meant so much to Rob. In particular, the rugby league family and MND community have rallied around Rob to inspire him, thank you for your support.

“For those who knew Rob throughout his life, his determination and spirit in the face of MND over the last four and a half years came as no surprise. Rob never accepted that he couldn’t do something. He just found his way of doing it better than anyone else. He will continue to inspire us all every day. In a world full of adversity. We must dare to dream.”

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Burrow obituary

Peter Smith writes in his Burrow obituary: “In a sporting world of giants, Rob Burrow, stood tall above the rest. At just 5ft 4ins and weighing around 11 stone, Burrow may not have looked like a modern Super League player, but what he lacked in size he more than made up for in heart, pace and skill.”

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