The Leeds Rhinos, England and Great Britain rugby league star Rob Burrow was the subject of a devastating documentary, My Year With MND, on BBC Two on Tuesday and viewers were quick to celebrate the tenacious player’s attitude to his battle with motor neurone disease.
Burrow, 38, was diagnosed with MND in December 2019 and his movement and voice deterioration and weight loss have been chronicled with regular appearances on BBC Breakfast in 2020. But nothing prepared viewers for the half-hour insight into Burrow’s life, his family and his illness.
The fans of “one of the all time greats” were watching the documentary in big numbers.
I'm ready to cry, what an amazing man @Rob7Burrow is! One of the all time greats and one of the most inspirational men that has ever lived! This should be a good watch! @leedsrhinos @SuperLeague #BBCBreakfast #BBC #RobBurrow #rugbyleague
— Joshua Riley-Hoare (@theonlychew96) October 13, 2020
Burrow’s gutsy attitude was an inspiration to many watching.
One posted: “Watching Rob Burrow in BBC2 now. If we want a reminder of what’s important in life, I can’t think of a better way to spend 30mins. What an inspiration, what a guy #RobBurrow”.
Ah man, this is so heartbreaking to watch ????
A warrior on the field & a warrior off it. @Rob7Burrow, you're an absolute legend & an inspiration to many. Not only have all of us @leedsrhinos fans got your back, but the whole #RugbyLeague family has too.#RobBurrow #MND #Legend pic.twitter.com/byMaH6Mf8c
— Jamie (@JimmJamm83) October 13, 2020
MND occurs when specialist nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord called motor neurones stop working properly and is also known as neurodegeneration.
There was a lot of respect and admiration shows to his wife, Lindsey, as well.
— Andy Pickles (@AndyPickles1) October 13, 2020
The diminutive scrum-half (he stands 5ft 4in) was always told he was too small to play professional rugby league. At just over 10 stone he faced players almost twice his size. But his career record made a nonsense of that assessment. He played 493 times for Leeds, 15 times for England and five times for Great Britain.
Many of social media had the same message: size doesn’t matter.
@Rob7Burrow is such an inspiration. Grew up watching him carve up defences even as more often than not he was the smallest player on the pitch. For a man of his size he doesn't half have a big heart and I know he won't take this laying down. #RobBurrow #Legend
— Big pete ????????????️???????? (@Bigpete26386229) December 20, 2019
Some rugby league fans were hopeful Leeds would lift the Challenge Cup final at Wembley on Burrows’ behalf. They play Salford Red Devils in Saturday’s match.
— Chris (@ThisIsChris_x) October 13, 2020
The documentary had the same effect on many watching. One summed up the sentiment on social media: “#robburrow tough to watch the documentary tonight, but what an inspirational man. Cried my eyes out. His family are wonderful and such a great support network. I pray a cure is found for all MND sufferers asap. Keep fighting Rob.”
Find out more about MND at the Motor Neurone Disease Association.