2 Jun 2024

'Rob showed us the power of dignity': Vale Rob Burrow

International Rugby League Chair Troy Grant has paid tribute to England and Great Britain international Rob Burrow for his inspirational deeds on and off the field.

Burrow, 41, passed away in Leeds on Sunday following a brave battle against Motor Neurone Disease (MND), in which he helped raise awareness and more than GBP20m for efforts to combat the debilitating disease.

The diminutive halfback made 15 international appearances for England and five for Great Britain, and he was Man of the Series for the Lions in 2007 against New Zealand, which commemorated the 100th anniversary of the game’s first international tour.

Since his MND diagnosis in 2019, Burrow and his family, along with best friend and former team-mate Kevin Sinfield, have led a public campaign that has transcended sport and highlighted the values of family and mateship.

Rob Burrow and familyPhoto: Rob Burrow with wife Lindsey and their children Macy, Maya and Jackson. (Leeds Rhinos)

Grant expressed his sincere condolences on behalf of IRL to Burrow’s wife Lindsey, their children, other family and his many friends across the game, led by Sinfield.  

“In a world full of adversity, we must dare to dream. Rob showed us how we should live - to the fullest, with generosity to our fellow man at the heart of all we do, and that family and mateship is what matters most.

“In addition to all he did and everything he was, Rob showed us the power of dignity. I am privileged to have met him, his family and mate Kevin Sinfield.”  

Rugby Football Chair and IRL Director Simon Johnson said Burrow’s contributions on and off the field would continue to be recognised by the game.

“This devastating news has united all in Rugby League in sadness and the many others who have been touched and inspired by the courageous response of Rob, his family and friends since his diagnosis in December 2019.

“We will take a little time as a sport to consider how best to remember Rob, and to celebrate his life, at our Challenge Cup Finals Day at Wembley Stadium next Saturday, when Leeds Rhinos will play St Helens in the Betfred Women’s Challenge Cup Final.

“We had already committed earlier this year that the Player of the Match in the men’s Betfred Super League Grand Final will receive the Rob Burrow Award – to be presented for the first time at Old Trafford this October.”

Burrow Sinfield (1)Photo: Rob Burrow and Kevin Sinfield defined mateship (Leeds Rhinos)

Sinfield, who played alongside Burrow for most of his 492 appearances with Leeds, and ran a series of marathons to raise funds for MND – carrying his mate over the finish line in the 2023 Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon – said he was an inspiration to all.

“Today was a day I hoped would never come,” Sinfield wrote in a statement. “The world has lost a great man and a wonderful friend to so many.

“You fought so bravely until the end and became a beacon of hope and inspiration, not only for the MND community but for all those who saw and heard your story.

“My love and thoughts go to your beautiful family, Lindsey, Macy, Maya and Jackson, to your parents Geoff and Irene, sisters Joanne and Claire and your wider family and friends.

“You will continue to inspire me every single day. I have lost a dear friend and will never forget the special times we shared both on and off the pitch. I would always say that you were pundits for pound the toughest player I ever played alongside, however, since your diagnosis, you were the toughest and bravest man I have ever met.

“The last four and a half years you showed the world what living and loving looked like and this was always done with the biggest smile on your face. I will miss you my little mate. All my love, Kev. X”

ERL chair, Dean Andrew, said in tribute: “On behalf of everyone involved with European Rugby League, I send our deepest condolences to the family of Rob Burrow. As a player for England and Great Britain, Rob's performances in the international game thrilled so many.

“His fight against MND and his fundraising efforts were equally inspiring to people in the international Rugby League community, and he will leave a lasting legacy throughout the world as a result.”