WIth RUCK.co.uk’s business developer Mike Martin walking 10,000 steps a day throughout March to help beat cancer, we thought it an opportune time highlight players who went above and beyond for charity.
Now onto some of the rugby legends who have done incredible things to help others…
In June 2017, Doddie Weir revealed he was suffering from Motor Neurone Disease.
Despite the challenges he faces, from the very start, Weir has been motivated to help fellow sufferers and seek ways to further research into the disease, for which there is no cure.
Weir, now aged 50, won 61 caps for Scotland as one of the most respected forwards in rugby at the turn of the century, and he revealed his diagnosis on World MND Awareness Day four years ago.
As of October 2018, his charity – My Name’5 Doddie – had raised in excess of £1m.
He was awarded an OBE in the 2019 New Year Honours for services to rugby, to motor neurone disease research and to the community in the Scottish Borders, while he collected the BBC’s Helen Rollason Award in the same year.
Former rugby league star Rob Burrow has also shed more light on those suffering with the disease throughout 2020, after his diagnosis in late 2019 following a stellar career with Leeds Rhinos. His former captain Kevin Sinfield ran seven marathons in seven days at the start of December 2020 and raised over £3m for MND research.
Find out more at: myname5doddie.co.uk
England’s record appearance holder with a remarkable 114 caps, Leonard has been actively involved in charity ever since his retirement from playing in 2003.
Leonard has raised over £2m for charity by holding Annual Dinners every year since 2004, but arguably his most life-changing work yet began in 2014 when he founded The Atlas Foundation.
The Atlas Foundation exists to help deprived children work towards a better future through rugby communities and initiatives.
‘A launchpad for good’ as described on atlasfrc.org, the remarkable charity provides a platform that funds international projects that impact on the lives of deprived young people all over the world, using rugby as its vehicle.
Through feeding, education programmes and rugby initiatives, The Atlas Foundation provides safety, education, food, sport, guidance and community to thousands of children across five continents.
So far over £1m has been raised by the charity, and over 50,000 children have been supported.
Find out more at: https://www.atlasfrc.org/
Popham won 33 caps for Wales, played in World Cups in 2003 and 2007 and is a 2008 Grand Slam winner.
He retired back in 2011 but, in April last year, at the age of just 40, he was diagnosed with early onset dementia as a result of injuries suffered during his rugby career.
Despite that setback, Popham has focussed his energy into supporting the new charity ‘Head for Change’ alongside his wife, Mel.
The pair have bravely shared their story on TV and elsewhere as they seek a united front alongside football to spark positive change for brain health in sport, and supporting ex-players who are affected by neurodegenerative disease as a result of their professional sporting career in football or rugby.
Find out more: https://headforchange.org.uk/
The England fly-half has spent years supporting ‘Joining Jack’ – his celebration involves linking both his index fingers together as he holds his hands out in front of him.
And the reason for his celebration stems from his close relationship with one of his biggest fans – Jack Johnson.
Jack, from Farrell’s hometown of Wigan, turned 13 in January and suffers from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a debilitating muscle-wasting disorder that will leave unable to walk.
The teenager was diagnosed with the condition in 2011 and Farrell has been one of ‘Joining Jack’s most prominent supporters throughout his stellar England career
Find out more at https://joiningjack.org/
Wales and Ospreys legend Shane Williams has been a huge supporter of children’s charity Wooden Spoon for a number of years.
The charity funds a range of life-changing projects that support children and young people with disabilities or living in disadvantaged conditions.
They have funded over 1,300 projects across the UK and Ireland since 1983, totalling over £29m.
And Williams’ fundraising efforts saw a world record broken back in 2019 as he captained a team which broke the record for playing a rugby match at the highest altitude.
The 14-minute seven-a-side match was played at 6,331m (20,770ft), near Mount Everest base camp and ended 5-5.
It formed part of an “Everest Rugby Challenge” arranged by children’s rugby charity Wooden Spoon, which has raised more than £250,000.
Former England Sevens player Ollie Phillips captained the other side.
Williams said the “inhospitable conditions” had ensured the game was “incredibly tough”.
“If you ran during the match it took 10 minutes to recover,” he added.
Find out more at: woodenspoon.org.uk