Hawick’s Stuart Hogg signs up for 1,600-mile charity cycle ride in memory of Borders rugby legend Doddie Weir

Former Scotland rugby captain Stuart Hogg on TV pundit duties for TNT Sports in Gloucester earlier this month (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)Former Scotland rugby captain Stuart Hogg on TV pundit duties for TNT Sports in Gloucester earlier this month (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
Former Scotland rugby captain Stuart Hogg on TV pundit duties for TNT Sports in Gloucester earlier this month (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
Hawick’s Stuart Hogg has added his name to the line-up of almost 250 cyclists taking on a 1,600-plus-mile sponsored ride from the west of Scotland to Italy in memory of Borders rugby legend Doddie Weir.

The former Glasgow Warriors full-back will be in event organiser and fellow ex-Scotland captain Rob Wainwright’s core team for the Oban-Rome trip and they’ll be accompanied by 18 other groups of riders.

They set off on Monday, March 4, with the dual objective of delivering the match-ball for Scotland’s penultimate fixture of this year’s Six Nations – away to Italy on Saturday, March 9, with kick-off at 2.15pm – and raising £1m for the late Weir’s motor neurone disease research charity, the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation.

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Erstwhile Irish international Gordon D’Arcy is also in Wainwright’s team.

Their ride has already raised more than £400,000 prior to departing and they hope further donations via https://justgiving.com/campaign/all-roads-lead-to-rome will yield the £500,000-plus required to hit their target.

In addition to the 19 cycling teams going all or part of the way in relays to Rome, rugby fans and supporters of the foundation are being invited to join in by foot, road, train, boat or aeroplane and meet up in the Italian capital’s Piazza Navona on Friday, March 8, for a celebration in honour of Blainslie’s Weir, killed by MND in November 2022 at the age of 52, and again the day after ahead of Italy and Scotland’s Cuttitta Cup match at the Stadio Olimpico.

The ride, named All Roads Lead to Rome, is Wainwright’s fifth for the foundation, including one last year from Wales to Edinburgh’s Murrayfield Stadium that raised more than £820,000.

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The Perth-born 58-year-old, an old team-mate of Weir’s capped 37 times between 1992 and 1998, 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.

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“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.”

The other 18 cycling teams taking part include one featuring ex-Kelso and Scotland winger Roger Baird starting on Wednesday, February 28, at Edinburgh’s Murrayfield and visiting all four other Six Nations stadiums en route and the Cycling Souters, captained by Selkirk’s Gordon Hunter.

Explaining his involvement, Hogg, a television pundit since ending his 100-cap playing career last July at the age of 31, told ex-Scotland lock Jim Hamilton’s Big Jim Show podcast: “Rob Wainwright has been at me for a long time to get involved in some mad cycles that he continually signs up for, so I said to him just after the Rugby World Cup, after a few beers, that the next challenge he was doing I would 100% commit to it.

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“Lo and behold the next cycle is from Oban in the west of Scotland to Rome, so I’m going ‘bloody hell, what have I done?’, but I’ve loved been out on the bike because there is a team element to it.

“With eight guys doing half-an-hour stints, you’ve got to average 18mph to do it in four and a half days, and I don’t want to be the one who is lagging behind and letting the team down, so I am committing fully to this and I’ve spent an absolute fortune on cycling gear to look the part.

“I went on a 30-mile cycle with Rob the other week and he’s a man on a mission on that bike. He was a good half a mile ahead of me at times.

“That element of getting out and being on the bike, being on my own for a little while, getting fit again, I’ve loved it and I’m properly buzzing for the cycle.

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“I’ll probably hang up the cycling shorts straight away on the Saturday when we get there, but I’m looking forward to it.”

For further details of Baird’s ride, go to https://www.justgiving.com/team/dodd1e5-gr4nd-s7am

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