Scotland v Wales match ball handed over after Doddie Weir 555-mile charity ride

Some 200 cyclists took part in the 48-hour charity ride across Wales, England and Scotland.
Some 200 cyclists took part in the 48-hour charity ride across Wales, England and Scotland.

It was all cheers and smiles when a star-studded team of cyclists delivered the match ball ahead of the Scotland v Wales Six Nations game after a gruelling 555-mile charity ride in memory of the late rugby legend Doddie Weir.

The 200-strong peloton, led by former rugby captain Rob Wainwright, started its epic trip from the Principality Stadium in Cardiff on Thursday morning and arrived at BT Murrayfield Stadium at about 4pm on Saturday.

As a nod to Weir’s esteemed rugby career, today’s match ball was strapped to the back of Wainwright’s bike throughout the 48-hour ride across Wales, England and Scotland.

The rugby legend then handed the ball over to the Princess Royal in front of tens of thousands of fans who were belting out the Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond as they awaited kick-off.

Scotland v Wales – Guinness Six Nations – BT Murrayfield
Former Scotland captain Rob Wainwright arrives with the match ball ahead of the Six Nations Scotland v Wales game (Andrew Milligan/PA)

“I feel much better after having a shower,” Wainwright quipped in an interview with the BBC, minutes after arriving at the stadium.

Sporting a full-on Doddie Weir tartan outfit, Wainwright added: “I feel amazingly okay for 20 minutes sleep last night.

“It’s been wonderful, what an experience it’s been, but I am quite glad it’s over.

“It’s the rugby family at its very best coming in support of an icon of the game and one of their own.”

Hollywood star Ryan Reynolds showed his support for the cyclists, which also included World Cup-winning former England skipper Martin Johnson and Olympian Sir Chris Hoy.

The Deadpool and Bullet Train star sent a motivational video to the riders offering an advanced welcome to the Racecourse Ground, home of his football club Wrexham AFC, where the group stopped for a rest on Friday morning.

He said: “I just want to wish you guys all the best. Go get them and what an incredible cause and such a wonderful thing that you’re all doing.”

This is the fourth year that the ride has taken place, but it is the first since Weir died last November, aged 52, after a six-year battle with MND.

Those taking part also included 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.

The ride took 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.