Rugby stars to cycle 555 miles in 48 hours for Doddie Weir fundraising event

Doddie Aid has raised £1.5 million for motor neurone disease research so far this year.
Doddie Aid has raised £1.5 million for motor neurone disease research so far this year.

A team of rugby legends will cycle 555 miles in 48 hours to deliver the match ball ahead of the Scotland v Wales Six Nations game in a fundraising event for research into motor neurone disease.

The group, which includes former Scotland captain Rob Wainwright and World Cup winning former England skipper Martin Johnson, will be cycling in support of the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation, which the late Doddie Weir launched in 2017.

Wainright said the 2023 bike ride will be “particularly poignant” as it will be the first since Weir died last November, aged 52, after a six-year battle with motor neurone disease (MND).

The Princess Royal will hand over the match ball at Gloucester Rugby next Wednesday before it begins its journey on Thursday.

BT Murrayfield Stadium
The group will be cycling to BT Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh (Jane Barlow/PA)

The cyclists will travel via the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, arriving at BT Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh on Saturday February 11 for the Scotland v Wales match, known as the Doddie Weir Cup.

Wainwright said: “This year marks the fourth anniversary of the Doddie Weir Cup, and it’s particularly poignant as it’s the first since Doddie’s passing in November, but this only drives us forward to continue making progress and raising awareness of MND.

“We have to believe that a breakthrough in MND treatment is just round the corner and push ourselves and others to raise funds to realise that dream.

“We want you to be part of this too. While we ride from Cardiff, we will be encouraging the rugby family to ride locally and donate £1 per mile.

“You can even join Chris Hoy on Zwift rides. Doddie Aid has raised £1.5 million this year, let’s get it to £2 million!”

Mark Beaumont
Cyclist Mark Beaumont will be among those taking part (Andrew Milligan/PA)

The ride takes place during the last week of Doddie Aid 2023, a national fundraising event which has seen more than 38,000 fundraisers trying to raise as much money as possible for MND research.

Wainwright, Doddie Aid founder and Weir’s former Scotland and British and Irish Lions teammate, will lead a 200-strong peloton of cyclists.

Those taking part include international rugby players and endurance cyclists, such as world record breaker Mark Beaumont, former England back row Dean Ryan, and former Scotland international Carl Hogg – one of Weir’s closest friends.

There is also a team made up of Weir’s teammates from the victorious 1997 British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa including Paul Wallace, Jeremy Davidson, and Tim Stimpson.

Riders will take in a gruelling route via rugby clubs across Wales, England, and Scotland on their way to the stadium in Edinburgh, where Princess Anne will receive the match ball.

Johnson said: “Doddie was an inspiration to all of us, and the life and soul of one of the most important periods in our lives in South Africa in 1997. That spirit will be our motivation on this adventure.

“Jim Telfer famously described that tour as our Everest, but for those 48 hours, it will be the 555 miles to Edinburgh.

“Thank you to everyone who has shown their support – please keep backing us to continue Doddie’s legacy and help raise as much as we can for MND research.”

This is the fourth year that the ride has taken place, having raised £300,000 in 2022.

Riders last year averaged six hours of sleep across 48 hours during the challenge, which saw them maintain speeds of 15mph to deliver the match ball on time.

The teams are aiming to raise more than £500,000 this year and anyone wanting to find out more or make a donation can do so at https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/DoddieCup555