It’s about to be game on for ex-classmates of Borders rugby legend Doddie Weir at Scotland’s Rural College out to raise money for his motor neurone disease research charity.
The ex-Melrose lock was given the first of his 61 Scotland caps against Argentina in 1990 while studying for a higher national diploma in agriculture at the college’s Edinburgh campus.
The 47-year-old, of Blainslie, also played in the 1991 Rugby World Cup, helping Scotland reach its semi-finals, while still a student, graduating the following summer.
Two of his former classmates will turn out for a college alumni team taking on its current Edinburgh Agrics side in a charity match next week, and they hope to raise at least £2000 for the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation.
They are fellow farmer Hamish Dykes, of West Linton, and Lanark’s David Ireland, director of waste management and recycling company 3R Solutions.
Hamish, 46, said: “The first time I met Doddie at college he was straight out of school and fairly unknown, but by the time we left he was a famous international rugby player, so I like to think our influence helped!
“It’s brilliant to get the opportunity to take part in this match and help Doddie’s charity and also to renew some old acquaintances.”
The coin toss ahead of the game will be performed by foundation trustee and former Scotland flanker Finlay Calder, also captain for the British and Irish Lions’ 1989 Australian tour.
Doddie revealed last year that he had MND and set up the foundation to raise money for research into the condition.
The college match will take place at Edinburgh University’s Peffermill Playing Fields on Wednesday, April 18, kicking off at 7pm.
Entry is free, but collection buckets will be circulating on the night. Donations can also be made online at uk.virginmoneygiving.com
The team of former students will be captained by Fife farmer Steven Mitchell, and the younger side will be led by Ian Carlisle, a third-year student from Dumfries.
Former Scotland No 5 Doddie, diagnosed with MND at the end of 2016, said: “I am delighted to see my old college is staging a rugby match for the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation.
“I have so many fantastic memories of being at the college, where I made such a great number of friends. It is impressive to hear that some of them are still able to pull on a pair of rugby boots!
“The level of support and generosity people have shown me since I shared my diagnosis has been amazing, and it has meant a great deal to me and my family.
“We are now firmly focused on what we can do to help fund research and hopefully, one day, find a cure for MND.
“We also want to support fellow sufferers and push the need for research further up the agenda.
“Good luck to everyone involved. I know you’ll have a great night.”
College principal Wayne Powell added: “We’re proud to count Doddie Weir, a Scotland rugby legend, among our former students, and this match is a fantastic way of helping to raise money for his foundation.
“We’re delighted that so many college alumni, including some of Doddie’s ex-classmates, have agreed to take part against our current crop of rugby players for what promises to be a memorable and extremely worthwhile occasion.”