Leeds Rhinos legends honoured at testimonial match for Rob Burrow and Jamie Jones-Buchanan

The rugby league community joined together to honour two Leeds Rhinos legends during an emotional afternoon at the Emerald Headingley stadium.

By Mark Lavery
Sunday, 12th January 2020, 6:03 pm
Updated Sunday, 12th January 2020, 6:14 pm

Around 21,000 fans raised the roof at the sold-out Leeds Rhino v Bradford Bulls testimonial match for Jamie Jones-Buchanan on Sunday afternoon (Jan 12)

It was a joint fundraiser after 37-year-old former Rhinos player Burrow was diagnosed with the rare and incurable brain and nerve condition motor neurone disease (MND).

Burrow, who now coaches at the club, was told before Christmas that he had the degenerative neurological condition, for which there is no cure.

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Rob Burrow on the pitch with his children Macy, Maya and Jackson and Jamie Jones-Buchanan and his children. photo: Jonathan Gawthorpe.

Players from both teams formed a guard of honour to cheer Burrow and Jones-Buchanan on to the field as 'Marching on Together' was played.

The one-club legends were led out by their young children ahead of their final appearance at Headingley in the game, which Rhinos won 34 points to 10.

Burrow and Jones-Buchanan, along with other retired Rhinos greats Kevin Sinfield, Jamie Peacock, Kylie Leuluai and Danny McGuire, played in the final few minutes of the game.

Sky Sports, who broadcast the match live, will be donating all of their expenses to a Virgin Money Giving appeal that has already raised more than £240,000 for Burrow since it was launched last month.

Glyn Delahaye.

Rhinos fans spoke of their heartfelt appreciation of both players' talent, effort and commitment to their club.

Kelvin Townsend, 72, travelled to Headingley from his home in Lytham St Annes near Blackpool to watch the game.

Mr Townsend, originally from Shadwell, Leeds, said: "I wanted to acknowledge what Rob and Jamie have put into the game and their efforts over the years.

"They have both been loyal to the club right from being young lads.

Katie Davison, 46, of Normanton.

"Rob is just the best scrum half that Leeds Rhinos have ever produced."

Brian Hutchinson, 73, of Rothwell said: "Rob is one of the best players we have ever had.

"He had such fantastic speed of the mark. He was such a brave player and has always been a positive person."

Barbara Edwards, 70, of Kippax, said: "We want to thank them for what they have given to the Leeds. They were both great players who have given everything.

Kelvin Townsend.

"It was devastating and a total shock to hear (of Rob's illness). He is so young. To be diagnosed with something like that is unbelievable. It is sad."

Jez Seaton, 53, of Alwoodley, was at the game with family and friends.

Mr Seaton said: "We wanted to support Robbie and Jamie. They were two of the greatest players ever to play for Leeds.

Mr Seaton said it was "heartbreaking" to hear of Rob's diagnosis, adding: "I am devastated for him and his young family."

Mr Seaton added: "It is fantastic that Rhinos and Sky Sports have recognised the importance of the event."

Andy Mace, 49, of Alwoodley, said his favourite memory of Rob Burrow was when he ran the length of then pitch to score a solo try in the Grand Final over St Helen's in 2011.

Jez Seaton (centre) with (from left to right), wife Lisa Seaton, daughter Amelia Seaton, and friends Sharon and Andy Mace.

Mr Mace said: "Rob is an absolute legend. Jamie was a brilliant player as well."

Richard Killington, 74, of Moortown, said: "I commend the club for organising today's event, they think about their players a lot.

"I'm very happy to be here today to help not only Rob but also Jamie for all the effort they have put into the club."

Katie Davison, 46, of Normanton, said: "Rob was a fantastic player, a true Rhino.

"The rugby league community always joins together for events like this.

"It's about everybody getting together and supporting Rob after his diagnosis with a life changing illness."

"We also wanted to show our appreciation for what Jamie has put into the sport."

Bradford Bulls fan Glyn Delahaye, 68, said: "We love Rob Burrow and the way he plays. He is one of my favourite players.

"He has been the scourge of Bradford because he has always beaten us."

Rob Burrow, from Pontefract, retired in 2017 after winning the Grand Final.

His announcement last month that he had been diagnosed with motor neurone disease devastated both Rhinos fans and the wider rugby community, who rallied to support him.

The Virgin Money Giving appeal fund will support Rob in his treatment and help his wife and three young children, all under the age of eight, in the years ahead.

Barbara Edwards.
Brian Hutchinson.