Rugby Icon Rob Burrow Succumbs to ALS after Inspiring Fundraising Battle


In Leeds, England, after a renowned rugby career, extensive fundraising efforts, and an inspiring battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease, Rob Burrow has passed away at the tender age of 41. Leeds Rhinos, the English rugby league club that harbored Burrow’s talent throughout his career, confirmed his death on a somber Sunday.

Rob Burrow, a stalwart in the world of rugby, dedicated his entire career to the Leeds Rhinos, aiding them in clinching a staggering eight Super League titles. His silver-plated years with the Rhinos came to an end in 2017 when Burrow decided to retire. However, two years into his retirement, a life-changing revelation emerged – Burrow had been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a disease more commonly referred to as motor neurone disease (MND).

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Despite the specter of the illness, Burrow demonstrated an incredible strength of character. As the disease took hold, so did his unwavering determination to use his position to make a difference. He poured his energy into raising funds alongside former teammate Kevin Sinfield, helping construct a new care center dedicated to the treatment and support of ALS patients.

His death was met with deep sadness and Leeds Rhinos released a poignant statement in his memory, “Rob inspired the entire country with his brave battle against Motor Neurone Disease (MND) since his diagnosis in December 2019. He passed away peacefully at Pinderfield’s Hospital (in Wakefield) near his home, surrounded by his loving family after becoming ill earlier this week.”

Prince William of Britain, expressing his condolences, paid homage to Burrow by saying, “He taught us, ‘in a world full of adversity, we must dare to dream.’ Catherine and I send our love to Lindsey, Jackson, Maya, and Macy.”

Born in Pontefract, Burrow’s career started in Leeds’ academy, eventually leading to his 2001 debut and subsequent recognition as a superstar of the sport. In 2004, his team secured their first Super League title, and Burrow won his first national-team honors with England.

The zenith of Burrow’s career came when Great Britain brought him on board for their test series against New Zealand in 2007. He played a key role in the 3-0 victory, scoring two tries and nine goals, and was awarded player of the series.

Once retired, Burrow shifted his focus to coaching in the Leeds academy, before his ALS diagnosis. The public was able to witness his resilience through an award-winning BBC documentary, “Rob Burrow — My Year with MND,” which intimately portrayed his journey with the disease and its impact on his family.

As Burrow’s condition deteriorated, Sinfield took over the fundraising efforts, launching campaigns that raised nearly 20 million pounds ($25.5 million) across the UK and Ireland. He organized extraordinary events, even running seven marathons in seven days at one point.

One of Sinfield’s most remarkable acts was at the inaugural Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon in 2023. He pushed his dear friend and former teammate, across the finish line, drawing attention to their mutual cause.

Sinfield expressed his profound loss in a social media post, “The world has lost a great man and a wonderful friend to so many,” encapsulating the deep sense of loss shared by all those touched by Burrow’s life and legacy.