Rob Wainwright to lead cycle to Rome for MND research

Former Scotland rugby captain Rob Wainwright is to lead a team of cyclists to Rome for a Six Nations match to raise money for research into motor neurone disease.

Wainwright will make the 1,600-mile journey from Scotland to deliver the match ball for the Italy v Scotland tie on March 9.

His team will be among 19 taking part in the All Roads Lead To Rome challenge to raise funds for the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation, which was founded in 2017 by his friend Doddie Weir.

Scotland rugby legend Weir died in November 2022 aged 52 after a six-year battle with MND.

All those involved in the challenge will congregate in the Piazza Navona in Rome on Friday March 8 for a celebration in honour of Weir, before meeting again the next day to march together from the Piazza del Popolo to the Stadio Olimpico for the match.

Wainwright said: “Doddie was an icon in the rugby world and the MND community, and has united an army of supporters in pursuit of a world free of the disease.

“It’s a tragedy he is no longer here and we all miss him so much, but it’s up to us to take on the mantle and continue his mission until we have beaten MND. We won’t stop until that happens.

“So much progress has been made since Doddie’s diagnosis, but there remains a huge distance to go. There are still no treatment prospects, but we are getting closer and there is hope for a breakthrough soon.

“We need to keep MND in the spotlight, and All Roads Lead To Rome is as much about raising awareness for the MND community as it is about digging deep to raise money for vital research – the only thing that will ultimately lead to an end to this devastating disease.

“It will be a tough challenge, but a rewarding one, and it will be even more special when we all meet in Rome on March 8 to celebrate the achievement and Doddie’s memory.”

Doddie Weir
Doddie Weir died in November 2022 after a six-year battle with MND (Jane Barlow/PA)

The other 18 teams will take their own routes, with Dodd1e’5 Gr4nd S7am visiting all Six Nations stadiums on their way to Rome.

The first cyclist to leave for Rome was father-of-seven Roy Thorburn, 63, from the isle of Coll, who set off from Murrayfield in Edinburgh on Wednesday on a solo journey expected to take nine-and-a-half days.

He has cycled more than 120 miles per week in training, including at least 42 circumnavigations of Coll, raising more than £3,000 so far.

Mr Thorburn said: “I’ve seen how devastating MND can be to people and their families, and there’s no greater motivation to help than that.

“Doddie was a giant of the game and everybody still looks up to what he stood for. His reach goes far beyond rugby now and that’s why I wanted to get involved.

“When Rob asks you to do something, there’s no saying no, and I’m excited and nervous in equal measure about the ride. I’m looking forward to the challenge – although maybe not the Alps – and the thought of meeting everybody for a beer in Rome will get me through.”

Others taking part in the challenge include former Scotland captain Stuart Hogg, ex-Ireland star Gordon D’Arcy, former British and Irish Lions player Roger Baird, Italy’s record try-scorer Marcello Cuttitta, and campaigner Davy Zyw, who is living with MND.

Wainwright was made an OBE in the New Year Honours list for voluntary and charitable services to the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation.

The All Roads Lead To Rome challenge has already raised more than £400,000 through a JustGiving page and from other sources including sponsors – all of which will be donated to My Name’5 Doddie Foundation.

Anyone wishing to donate can find out more at

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