Kevin Sinfield says carrying Rob Burrow across marathon finish line was based only around 'friendship'

25 May 2023, 21:05 | Updated: 25 May 2023, 23:20

Ex-rugby player says lift given to Rob Burrow at the Leeds Marathon was based on friendship

By Jenny Medlicott

Rugby coach Kevin Sinfield tells Andrew Marr that carrying childhood pal Rob Burrow across the marathon finish line was “based completely around friendship”.

Kevin Sinfield completed the Leeds Marathon earlier this month with former rugby teammate and childhood friend Rob Burrow, who suffers from motor neurone disease (MND).

But before the pair crossed the finish line, Kevin picked up Rob from his wheelchair and carried him across the line in a moment that moved onlookers.

Speaking on Tonight with Andrew Marr, Andrew asked the ex-rugby player: “There are some people, including some disability campaigners, who were made a little bit uneasy about picking him up and carrying him, what do you say to them?”

Kevin answered: “It was never our intention to make people feel uneasy.”

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But, he said: “If people feel uneasy or uncomfortable with what happened on that final point, I think you’ll find the MND community have been uncomfortable for a long long time.

Sinfield as he carried Burrow across the line.
Sinfield as he carried Burrow across the line. Picture: Alamy

“If you’d followed this journey, I think you’d understand the friendship, and how much we love and care about each other, we played a pretty rough sport for a long time, we’ve been friends for a long time.

“Unless you knew mine and Rob’s story together, I don’t think you probably fully appreciate why we did what we did, and it was based completely around friendship.”

Rob was diagnosed with MND in late 2019 after he started noticing changes to his speech.

Sinfield kissed his old friend and team mate as he carried him at the end of the race
Sinfield kissed his old friend and team mate as he carried him at the end of the race. Picture: Alamy

The former teammates entered the Leeds marathon together to fundraise for the condition.

“It was a really special moment for us,” he said. “We’ve had some incredible moments on the rugby field with different trophy lines at different times, but actually that was the most special, to cross the line together.”

Sinfield and Burrow during the inaugural run
Sinfield and Burrow during the inaugural run. Picture: Alamy

Speaking of MND, Kevin added: “This community has been ravaged for years and decades, there’s so many people now that stop me in the street that want to speak to me and tell me that their grandad, their uncle, their aunty, their mum or dad, passed away years and years ago and this has been swept under the carpet. It can’t continue to happen.”

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“People with MND are the best of us, they’ve got to fight, they’re tough they’re warriors, they’ve got humour and a spirit,” he said.

“I might not be able to run the rest of my life, Andrew, there’ll come a point where I cannot run but I’ll keep trying to find ways to fundraise.”