BBC Breakfast’s Sally Nugent remembers Rob Burrow: A giant of a man

BBC Breakfast’s Sally Nugent has remembered the late rugby player Rob Burrow as the “smallest player on the pitch. But a giant of a man”.

Leeds Rhinos, the former club of the ex-rugby league star, announced his death, at the age of 41, on Sunday.

Nugent, 52, who covered Burrow’s life after his motor neurone disease diagnosis, wrote on X, formerly Twitter: “Smallest player on the pitch. But a giant of a man. There’s only one Rob Burrow.”

After his diagnosis, Burrow raised awareness of MND through the BBC documentaries Rob Burrow: My Year With MND (2020) and Rob Burrow: Living with MND (2022), which were both shortlisted at the National Television Awards in the authored documentary category.

Broadcaster Dan Walker, who interviewed Burrow when he was a presenter on BBC Breakfast, said the athlete “inspired millions”.

“He was the little fella who made a massive impact on the pitch and an even bigger one off it,” he said in a post on X.

“Rob Burrow taught us so much in the way he dealt with his MND diagnosis and inspired millions with his continued determination and desire to make a difference for others.

“Sending all my love to Lindsey and their kids, his sisters, his mum and dad and all those who will miss him so much.”

BBC Breakfast covered Burrow’s story extensively, including when former Leeds Rhino player Kevin Sinfield decided to run seven ultra-marathons in seven different cities across seven successive days in support of his friend.

In a social media post the programme wrote: “There is only one Rob Burrow CBE.

“A warrior. A legend. A family man.

“Our thoughts are with Rob’s family, all at Leeds Rhinos and everyone in the MND community with the news of his death aged 41.”

Good Morning Britain presenter Charlotte Hawkins, who became a patron of the MND Association after her father Frank died from MND in 2015, wrote on X: “Just heartbreaking @Rob7Burrow has died after being diagnosed with MND back in 2019.

“A fellow @mndassoc patron, he was such a beautiful human being who did so much to raise awareness & funds for those with MND. He’ll be very much missed. Big love Lindsey, Macy, Maya & Jackson.”