For most sporting stars, the eve of their departure to a major international tournament is spent relaxing at home with family members.
However, Scottish Rugby boss Gregor Townsend has taken his final preparations for the World Cup in Japan in a very different direction – by embarking on an epic charity golf challenge to benefit former team-mate Doddie Weir.
The 46-year-old swapped the try line for the green yesterday as he completed a hole on each of the 21 courses across his native Borders to raise money for the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation.
The former international team-mates, who represented Scotland together on 35 occasions, have been longtime friends since lining up on opposite sides in the Gala vs Melrose derby. The challenge came less than 24 hours before Scotland coach Townsend was due to join his charges for the journey to the team’s Japanese training base in Tokyo ahead of the clash with Ireland on September 22.
But he said he was determined to complete the 215 mile journey before jetting off to the tournament after teeing off at Newcastleton at 6:40 am.
He added: “I have been thinking for some time about trying to do something to raise funds and awareness for what Doddie is doing, which is so inspirational. There’s a close link between golf and rugby, obviously the Borders is the area we are both from and it was just about manageable.”
Weir wore a neck brace as he appeared at every hole, with other Scottish rugby royalty including Jim Renwick joining throughout the day.
Current stars Stuart Hogg and Greg Laidlaw were there to meet the travelling party at Minto Golf club, while the route also took in courses including Langholm, Hawick, Selkirk, Cardrona and Eyemouth, before finishing at St Boswells.
A JustGiving page set up for the event smashed its initial target within hours, with almost double the original £2,500 target raised by yesterday evening. The foundation has raised £3.5million over the past two years for research and support for MND sufferers.
Townsend, who watched his Scotland side defeat Georgia in their final warm-up match on Friday, said: “What Doddie has gone through I can only imagine how tough it must have been, but he has never shown any negativity. The amount of money and awareness he has raised for MND is simply amazing.
“The events I have been lucky enough to attend from London to Hong Kong and Kelso have all been so special and just show how Doddie has touched so many people’s lives.”