Hundreds line streets to pay respects to rugby legend Rob Burrow

People line the streets to applaud Rob Burrow. (Peter Byrne/PA Wire)
People line the streets to applaud Rob Burrow. (Peter Byrne/PA Wire)

Hundreds of mourners lined the streets to pay their respects to Rugby League legend and motor neurone disease sufferer Rob Burrow.

The former Leeds Rhinos player’s funeral was held on Sunday afternoon at a private service at Pontefract Crematorium.

Crowds thronged the streets leading to the crematorium, as fans and well-wishers gathered to bid a final farewell to the beloved sportsman and tireless campaigner.

Burrow, 41, died in hospital on June 2, nearly five years after being diagnosed with motor neurone disease.

His best friend and former teammate Kevin Sinfield was among the 161 mourners at the service.

Many in the crowds on the route wore rugby shirts bearing Burrow's name and his iconic number seven on the back.

As the hearse carrying Burrow's coffin passed by, traffic came to a halt and drivers joined mourners in a respectful round of applause. Many onlookers were visibly moved to tears.

The coffin was adorned with floral tributes spelling out 'Bro', 'Son', and 'Dad', reflecting Burrow's cherished family roles. A framed photograph of Burrow holding the Super League trophy was displayed in the hearse, alongside his MBE and CBE medals. Blue flowers in the shape of his iconic number seven completed the tribute.

In a touching gesture, members of the public threw yellow and white flowers onto the hearse as it passed, creating a colourful carpet of remembrance for the beloved rugby star.

One mourner wearing a hoodie could be seen slowly walking up to the hearse to carefully lay a single flower on the bonnet before she edged her way backwards.

Kevin Sinfield and Rob Burrow (Danny Lawson/PA) (PA Wire)
Kevin Sinfield and Rob Burrow (Danny Lawson/PA) (PA Wire)

A black flag attached to a silver Range Rover flapped in the wind as the vehicle slowly followed behind.

Five cars led the cortege as it slowed outside Featherstone Lions ARLFC's ground where Burrow played junior rugby.

The cortege slowed again as it passed through Featherstone and near to where he played.

The club today held a 77-second applause in tribute to Burrow ahead of their Betfred Championship game against Whitehaven.

Some mourners were rugby shirt’s with Burrow’s number. (Peter Byrne/PA Wire)
Some mourners were rugby shirt’s with Burrow’s number. (Peter Byrne/PA Wire)

Earlier on Sunday fans headed to the stadium to sign a book of condolence in his memory.

Some had travelled from as far as London having been touched by the inspirational hero's story.

Fan and Leeds Rhinos season ticket holder Stephen Hambleton, 64, hung Rob Burrow shirts on a line across the front window of his home in tribute.

He told the BBC: 'I hope his legacy goes on forever, especially with his MND contributions.

'He just brought so much awareness to it and this is me saying thank you to him.'

He is being laid to rest on a poignant day with it also being Rob Burrow Day - the day each year that his former club annually celebrates because of the iconic number 7 shirt worn by him during his rugby playing career.

Leeds Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington said before the funeral Burrow had doubted himself at the start of his career because of his height.

At 5ft5in tall, he was known as one of the smallest players in the Super League, but Mr Hetherington said he 'prove himself big enough'.

“He was big in heart, spirit determination and ability. An iconic sportsman,” he told the BBC.

Burrow represented both England and Great Britain during his career.