Ex-Scotland rugby internationals getting on their bikes for Doddie Weir’s MND charity

Many Borderers have been taking it easy over the festive period and the start of the new year, but a bunch of former Selkirk rugby players have been doing the exact opposite by heading out on their bikes in all weathers to get in shape for a daunting charity challenge.

By John Smail
Tuesday, 4th January 2022, 3:32 pm
Cycling Souters members, from left, Iwan Tukalo, Tommy Knox, David Anderson and Allen Jamieson getting some practice in in Peebles (Photo: John Smail)
Cycling Souters members, from left, Iwan Tukalo, Tommy Knox, David Anderson and Allen Jamieson getting some practice in in Peebles (Photo: John Smail)

Calling themselves the Cycling Souters, they will head off from Edinburgh’s Murrayfield Stadium on Thursday, February 10, as part of a 100-strong group of cyclists aiming to reach Cardiff’s Principality Stadium within 48 hours.

Their mission is twofold – to deliver the match ball in time for the Doddie Weir Cup fixture between Wales and Scotland being held as part of this year’s Six Nations tournament and to raise funds for the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation.

Using a relay system, teams of cyclists will aim to cover that 515-mile distance in less than two days, with various rugby clubs en route providing feed stations, medical back-up and shower facilities.

Fellow team members Gordon Hunter, Kevin Fairbairn, Graham Marshall and Kenny Pearce in Peebles (Photo: John Smail)

Selkirk is the only Borders rugby club to have entered a team, so the 100 riders’ first feed station stop will be at their Philiphaugh ground.

The Cycling Souters’ team leader is former Scotland international Gordon Hunter, and he is hoping each squad member and support crew volunteer will raise at least £500 through personal sponsorship to hit a target of £5,000.

“We’ve also had pledges of financial support from two or three companies,” said the 63-year-old, capped four times in 1984 and 1985 at scrum-half.

“They’ve kindly agreed to fund the purchase of Doddie cycling tops for the boys, as well as covering the various costs of the trip – for example, buying petrol for the support vehicles.

“Ex-Scotland captain Rob Wainwright is organising the whole event and has entered a team from his home island of Coll.

“London Scottish have also entered a 12-man squad, and several clubs from Wales are taking part.”

Asked to name their strongest rider, Hunter picked Allen Jamieson, the team’s road captain.

“As well as being a very good rider, Allen is also our route-planning expert, and I’ve every confidence he’s going to keep us all on the right road,” he said.

One early casualty among the Selkirk squad is fellow ex-Scottish international Andy Macdonald, forced to drop out of the team after aggravating a hip injury and now planning to join his pals’ back-up team, and Iain Paxton, another ex-Scotland player, is also doubtful due to a knee injury.

“It’s very frustrating, but I’ve made an appointment with a physio to see whether I’ll be fit enough to take part,” said the 64-year-old, called up by the British and Irish Lions in 1983.

“The last thing I want to do is to hold the boys back, so I’m hoping the situation will become a bit clearer once I’ve taken medical advice.”

The rest of the Cycling Souters’ line-up comprises ex-internationalists Graham Marshall and Iwan Tukalo and club vice-president David Anderson, plus ex-Selkirk players Tommy Knox, Kenny Pearce and Kevin Fairbairn.

To add to their current fundraising total of £1,545, go to https://www.justgiving.com/team/TheCyclingSouters

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