Doddie Weir OBE pictured at a match on November 13. Since his diagnosis in 2017, he has campaigned for greater research and funding into the disease

Rugby legend Doddie Weir has died aged 52 after a six-year battle with Motor Neurone Disease. 

The former Scotland and Lions player’s death was confirmed by his family this evening, who described the beloved father-of-three as ‘an inspirational force of nature’.

Since his diagnosis in 2016, he campaigned for greater research and funding to tackle the disease.

Born in Edinburgh, Weir began his career playing for Stewart’s Melville and then Melrose, where he helped the team win six championships.

The lineout specialist’s first Scotland cap came against Argentina in November 1990.

He was capped 61 times between then and 2000, and became known as one of Scotland’s all-time greats. 

Doddie Weir OBE pictured at a match on November 13. Since his diagnosis in 2017, he has campaigned for greater research and funding into the disease

Doddie Weir OBE pictured at a match on November 13. Since his diagnosis in 2017, he has campaigned for greater research and funding into the disease

Rugby legend Doddie Weir has died, aged 52, after five-year battle with Motor Neurone Disease

Rugby legend Doddie Weir has died, aged 52, after five-year battle with Motor Neurone Disease

Standing at 6ft 6in and weighing in at 17 stone in his prime, Weir was once famously described as being ‘on the charge like a mad giraffe’ by Scots rugby union commentator Bill McLaren.

The rugby union player was selected to play for the British and Irish Lions in 1997, but had his tour of South Africa cut short by injury. 

His final international appearance was against France at Murrayfield on 4 March 2000. 

He scored four international tries across his career and is the only Scot to have scored two against New Zealand – doing so in the quarter final of the 1995 world cup.

When the sport turned professional he left Scotland, joining Newcastle Falcons, where he spent seven years and was part of the squad that won the 1998 English Premiership.

He moved back to his homeland to join the newly-formed Border Reivers side in 2002, and saw out his playing days there before retiring from the game in 2004.

Weir received the Helen Rollason Award from The Princess Royal during the BBC Sports Personality of the Year ceremony in 2019

Tributes have poured in from public figures, fans and fellow players, including former England rugby player Brian Moore who described him as ‘an outstanding man in every sense’.

Just last week, Weir delivered the match ball during an Autumn Nations Series game between Scotland and New Zealand at Murrayfield. 

After his devastating MND diagnosis, Weir went on to raise millions through his My Name’5 Doddie foundation. 

He was given an OBE in 2019 for services to rugby, MND research and to the Borders community, where he lived.

In the same year, Weir received the Helen Rollason Award from The Princess Royal at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year ceremony. The award is given ‘for outstanding achievement in the face of adversity’.

Doddie Weir talked to Sportsmail last year about retaining his lust for life - as well as Guinness and wine - despite his ongoing battle with MND

Doddie Weir talked to Sportsmail last year about retaining his lust for life – as well as Guinness and wine – despite his ongoing battle with MND

Weir is survived by his wife Kathy and sons Hamish, Angus and Ben.

A statement from the Weir family said: ‘It is with great sadness we announce the death of our beloved husband and father, Doddie.

‘Doddie was an inspirational force of nature. His unending energy and drive, and his strength of character powered him through his rugby and business careers and, we believe, enabled him to fight the effects of MND (Motor Neurone Disease) for so many years.

After his devastating MND diagnosis, Weir went on to raise millions through his My Name'5 Doddie foundation

After his devastating MND diagnosis, Weir went on to raise millions through his My Name’5 Doddie foundation 

‘Doddie put the same energy and even more love and fun into our lives together: he was a true family man. Whether working together on the farm, on holiday, or celebrating occasions with wider family and friends, Doddie was always in the thick of it. We are lucky to have shared our lives with him and we cherish those memories: his love and warmth, his support and advice, his quick wit, and his terrible jokes. It is difficult to put into words how much we will miss him.

‘MND took so much from Doddie, but never his spirit and determination. He battled MND so bravely, and whilst his own battle may be over, his fight continues through his foundation, until a cure is found for all those with this devastating disease.

‘Hamish, Angus, Ben and I would like to thank everyone for your support and for respecting our privacy at this difficult time.’

'Doddie was an inspirational force of nature,' a statement from his family has said. Standing at 6'6' and 17 stone in his prime, Weir was a fine competitor for Scotland's rugby team

‘Doddie was an inspirational force of nature,’ a statement from his family has said. Standing at 6’6′ and 17 stone in his prime, Weir was a fine competitor for Scotland’s rugby team

His appearance at the start of Scotland’s latest test against the All Blacks mirrored an emotional visit he made with his three sons before his team’s match against the same opponents in autumn 2017.

Scottish Rugby released a statement this evening on social media announcing the tragic news just weeks after the sporting legend made an emotional return to.

Their statement read: ‘We’re devastated to hear of the passing of Doddie Weir.

‘A Scotland legend, his determination to raise awareness & help find a cure for MND epitomised his personality.

‘Our thoughts are with his family, friends, all connected with Scottish Rugby and his charity at this difficult time.

‘#RIPDoddie’

Doddie Weir receives the Helen Rollason Award from Princess Anne (left) during BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 2019

Doddie Weir receives the Helen Rollason Award from Princess Anne (left) during BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 2019

Last year, Weir talked to Sportsmail about retaining his lust for life – as well as Guinness and wine – despite his diagnosis. 

‘I have to drink [Guinness] through a straw that’s held for me but it’s my favourite tipple. And the red wine is over there somewhere. I used to go for the £3 to £6 bottles. Now, with time not on my side, I go for the £6 to £9 bottles. I’m going posh and expensive. Enjoy the best while I’m still here.’

He went on: ‘I’ve had a good life, I’m still having a good life. I am blessed. I have a fantastic family and friends round me all making my life better. Who could ask for more?’

Weir was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as MND, in December 2016.

Weir (centre) pictured with Rugby League player Kevin Sinfield (right of Weir), ahead of Sinfield's Ultra 7 in 7 Challenge from Murrayfield to Melrose. The seven sponsored ultra-marathons he undertook aimed to raise money for MND earlier this month

Weir (centre) pictured with Rugby League player Kevin Sinfield (right of Weir), ahead of Sinfield’s Ultra 7 in 7 Challenge from Murrayfield to Melrose. The seven sponsored ultra-marathons he undertook aimed to raise money for MND earlier this month

Weir was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as MND, in December 2016

Weir was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as MND, in December 2016 

He used his profile to push for better research to be carried out into ALS and appealed for improved care to be given to those affected by it.

Charities have praised Weir for his work to raise awareness about the condition, which has no known cure, is life-limiting and progresses rapidly.

The MND Association tweeted: ‘We’re sorry to hear that Doddie Weir OBE has died.

‘Since sharing his MND diagnosis in 2017, Doddie became an inspiration to many, raising awareness and campaigning tirelessly on behalf of those with MND.

‘Our thoughts are with Doddie’s wife Kathy, his 3 sons, family and friends.’

‘An outstanding man in every sense’: Brian Moore leads the tributes to former Scotland rugby star Doddie Weir after his death aged 52 following battle with MND as his former club Newcastle Falcons express their ‘desperate sadness’ 

By Thomas Schlachter for MailOnline 

Social media has paid tribute to former Scotland rugby union player Doddie Weir following his death aged 52.

Among those leading the tributes is former England rugby player Brian Moore. 

Moore said: ‘Very sorry to hear about the death of Doddie Weir. An outstanding man in every sense and one who will be sorely missed. RIP Big Man.’

Former Scotland rugby star Doddie Weir has died aged 52 following his battle with MND

Former Scotland rugby star Doddie Weir has died aged 52 following his battle with MND

'An outstanding man in every sense': Brian Moore took to Twitter to pay tribute to Weir

‘An outstanding man in every sense’: Brian Moore took to Twitter to pay tribute to Weir

Weir’s former club Newcastle Falcons also took to social media to pay tribute to the former Scotland second-row. 

Newcastle Falcons said: ‘It is with desperate sadness that Newcastle Falcons has learned of the passing of our former player and lifetime friend, Doddie Weir OBE. Rest in peace, Doddie.’ 

The club also tweeted a picture of Weir holding up a Newcastle Falcons shirt with his My Name’5 Doddie Foundation logo on the front of the kit. 

Newcastle Falcons expressed their 'desperate sadness' upon learning of Weir's death

Newcastle Falcons expressed their ‘desperate sadness’ upon learning of Weir’s death

Many other notable individuals have also taken to social media to share their tributes to Weir. 

Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland, tweeted: ‘This is so terribly sad. Doddie was one of our nation’s sporting legends, but the brave way he responded to MND surpassed anything ever achieved on the rugby pitch.’

Sturgeon continued: ‘He refused to let it dim his spirit and did so much to help others. My condolences to his loved ones. #RIPDoddie.’

Weir was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 2016 and has been helping raise awareness for MND ever since. 

Former Celtic and Welsh international footballer John Hartson also tweeted: ‘RIP Doddie Weir .. fought till the end! Raised so much awareness for MND .. thoughts are with the Weir family at this sad time.’

'Doddie was one of our nation's sporting legends': said First Minister of Scotland Sturgeon

‘Doddie was one of our nation’s sporting legends’: said First Minister of Scotland Sturgeon 

'Raised so much awareness for MND': John Hartson took to Twitter to pay tribute to Weir

 ‘Raised so much awareness for MND’: John Hartson took to Twitter to pay tribute to Weir

Following his death, Scottish Rugby released a statement from the Weir family, written by his wife Kathy.

In the statement Kathy described her husband as ‘an inspirational force of nature.’

Kathy continued: ‘His unending energy and drive, and his strength of character powered him through his rugby and business careers and, we believe, enabled him to fight the effects of MND (Motor Neurone Disease) for so many years.

‘Doddie put the same energy and even more love and fun into our lives together: he was a true family man. Whether working together on the farm, on holiday, or celebrating occasions with wider family and friends, Doddie was always in the thick of it.’

'An inspirational force of nature': Scottish Rugby released a statement from Weir's wife Kathy

‘An inspirational force of nature’: Scottish Rugby released a statement from Weir’s wife Kathy

Former Scotland captain Kelly Brown referred to Weir as ‘a giant of a man on and off the pitch’, before saying that ‘everybody loves Doddie Weir.’

Rugby league side Leeds Rhinos also said: ‘It is with deep sadness that we have learned of the passing of Rugby Union star and MND campaigner Doddie Weir OBE.

‘Our thoughts and prayers go to his family and friends at this extremely sad time, rest in peace Doddie.’

'A giant of a man on and off the pitch': Ex-Scotland captain Kelly Brown paid tribute to Weir

‘A giant of a man on and off the pitch’: Ex-Scotland captain Kelly Brown paid tribute to Weir

Rugby league side Leeds Rhinos also paid tribute to Weir on social media following his death

Rugby league side Leeds Rhinos also paid tribute to Weir on social media following his death

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