Rob Burrow: Rugby League Star and MND Advocate

Rob Burrow: Rugby League Star and MND Advocate

Rob Burrow, a distinguished figure in rugby league as a member of the Leeds Rhinos, England, and Great Britain teams, has passed away at the age of 41. Diagnosed with motor neurone disease (MND) in 2019, Burrow became an influential advocate for MND research, securing substantial funding for charities and pressing the government for enhanced research, treatment, and care. He succumbed to complications related to the disease.

Throughout his remarkable 17-year career—all spent with Leeds Rhinos—Burrow was affectionately known as the “Mighty Atom” due to his small stature, standing just under 5ft 5in (165cm) and weighing less than 11st (70kg). Despite being one of the smallest players in a sport that values size, he achieved great success. Burrow’s career highlights include winning eight Super League titles, two Challenge Cups, and three World Club Championships, culminating in 492 appearances where he scored 196 tries, kicked 157 goals, and made five drop-goals, primarily playing as scrum-half or hooker.

Rob Burrow’s Remarkable Rugby Legacy

Rob Burrow, celebrated for his exceptional performances, secured two Harry Sunderland Trophies at the 2007 and 2011 Super League Grand Finals. His iconic try in 2011, characterized by a masterful break through defenses, is celebrated as one of rugby’s finest. The trophy was unanimously awarded to him by 37 judges and has since been renamed the Rob Burrow Award in his honor.

Burrow’s international career includes playing for Great Britain and participating in the 2008 and 2013 England Rugby League World Cup squads. His outstanding contributions earned him the George Smith Medal in 2007.

Born in Pontefract, West Yorkshire, Burrow was the youngest of three and channeled his energy into rugby from an early age, spurred by his parents’ encouragement.

Career and Legacy of Rob Burrow

Rob Burrow began his rugby career with Castleford Panthers, later joining Featherstone Lions, where his talents caught Leeds Rhinos’ attention. He turned professional in 1999, debuting in the Super League in 2001. Burrow became Super League Young Player of the Year that season, frequently made the Super League Dream Team, and was inducted into the Leeds Rhinos Hall of Fame in 2020.

Diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND) in 2019, Burrow faced his condition with resilience, supported by his wife Lindsey, an NHS physiotherapist. His friendship with teammate Kevin Sinfield became pivotal, helping raise over £15m for MND charities. Burrow also gained recognition through the BBC documentary Rob Burrow: Living with MND and his award-winning autobiography Too Many Reasons to Live. He co-authored books with Sinfield, including With You Every Step and Try: A Picture Book About Friendship, celebrating male friendship and empathy.

Kevin Sinfield’s Fundraising Efforts for Rob Burrow

Kevin Sinfield has actively raised funds for Rob Burrow through multiple endurance events. In 2022, he ran seven ultramarathons consecutively, ending at Old Trafford. Previous years saw him complete seven marathons in seven days (2020) and a 101-mile run in 24 hours (2021). They notably participated together in the first Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon, where Sinfield helped Burrow cross the finish line in a poignant moment. Burrow was honored with an MBE in 2021 and a CBE in 2024 for his contributions to rugby and motor neurone disease awareness, with their awards presented at Headingley by the Prince of Wales.

Obituary: Robert Geoffrey Burrow

Robert Geoffrey Burrow, a prominent rugby league player and motor neurone disease campaigner, passed away on June 2, 2024. Born on September 26, 1982, in Leeds, Burrow had raised £6 million for the Rob Burrow Centre for Motor Neurone Disease, with construction commencing just after his death. He leaves behind his wife Lindsey, their children Maya, Macy, and Jackson, as well as his parents and two sisters.

General Sport Observer Marc Defaou
reviewed by: Marc Defaou (Sport Expert)

Share this article

More News
More links
Follow us