Sunday 22 April 2018

Conor Murray's heartwarming 'Axel' jersey gesture to help stricken Scotland star

Conor Murray with Keith Earls after Glasgow game last year and (inset) Doddie Weir
Conor Murray with Keith Earls after Glasgow game last year and (inset) Doddie Weir
Doddie Weir Photo: ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP/Getty Images
David Kelly

David Kelly

Munster rugby star Conor Murray has said Anthony Foley would have wanted him to donate a special jersey which will be used to raise funds for research into the motor neuron disease which has struck down Foley's one-time Scottish rival, Doddie Weir.

Weir was diagnosed with MND at the end of 2016 and, after the death of former South Africa scrum-half Joost van der Westhuizen just months later, the rugby community has rallied around Weir's bid to fund world-leading research focused on uncovering a cure to one of the most debilitating of terminal illnesses.

Lions scrum-half Murray joined Weir's campaign by offering a unique jersey, which was worn in the Champions Cup clash against Glasgow a week after Foley's sudden death in Paris in October of last year.

As a mark of respect, the club commissioned a special set of Munster jerseys for each player that bore the word 'Axel' under the club badge and the squad only wore the strip once.

"Doddie has been one of those characters in rugby, in sport really, that transcends national rivalries," said Murray.

Inspirational

"He was an inspirational rugby player but also an incredible person, and I don't think any of us can imagine what he must have gone through since his diagnosis.

"That he has decided to meet the challenge head-on is something we have to support.

"I would love to keep my 'Axel' jersey forever but when I thought about what I could do to help Doddie's effort, it made me think that the likelihood is that the jersey will hang at home, or worse, end up in a box some way down the road, and not actually do any good for anyone.

"I think, or hope at least, that Axel would love the idea of it being used to do something really positive, and support another great rugby man like he was."

Since the donation, bids for Murray's jersey have already passed the £1,000 (€1,140) mark.

Weir admitted: "It is staggering quite frankly the amount of support we have received from people across the world, but it is very special to me when a current player like Conor steps forward in this way.

"I loved watching and playing against Axel, and losing him was hard, so it is humbling to be given one of these jerseys."

To make a bid for the unique Munster jersey, or another Munster top signed by the current squad, go to www.tartangiraffe.scot and the Silent Auction (lot 77 and 86).

Irish Independent

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