The Scottish and Welsh rugby unions have bowed to angry public pressure and agreed to directly donate a “joint six-figure sum” to Doddie Weir’s motor neurone disease charity.
Both unions had come under fire from supporters, media and former players for initially declining to offer up any of the estimated £3 million gate revenue, of which the SRU is reported to be receiving around a third, from this Saturday’s Test between the nations in Cardiff which has been billed as the inaugural Doddie Weir Cup.
As pressure intensified over the weekend, the SRU had insisted it would continue to support in other ways the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation set up by the former Scotland and Lions legend following the revelation that he had the condition last June.
Fundraising activities had been set up around the game, described as “a gesture of support…designed to raise awareness of MND”, but that attracted an angry response on social media with some supporters expressing that they had bought tickets solely in the belief that part of the cost would go to Weir’s foundation.
A joint statement from the SRU and WRU said: “The motivation for creating the ‘Doddie Weir Cup’ was as a gesture of support to a great rugby man, to raise awareness for the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation and aid fundraising, and both Unions have now also confirmed they will each donate, alongside existing fundraising events, on concourses and at the point of ticket purchase, with a contribution of their own.”
An SRU spokesman added: “We have listened to the feedback from the rugby family in relation to extending our support around the autumn Test match in Cardiff and have partnered with the WRU in a commitment to guarantee the Foundation receives a six-figure donation.
“We are happy to provide a further level of support to Doddie and his Foundation through this initiative and to mirror the generosity of fans.”
A WRU spokesperson said: “We have listened to supporters and, whilst our initial motivation in supporting the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation was to help raise awareness for the fight against MND and the Foundations’ fundraising campaign, we have decided to make a direct donation.”
Earlier, Scotland assistant coach Mike Blair said that the thing in the squad’s power was to go out and strive to win the new trophy.
Blair said: “I don’t know the ins and outs of it, I am not part of the financial team. From the coaches’ and players’ side of things the best thing we can do is go out and put in a performance, win the trophy and have that attached to our victory.”
Harlequins back James Lang, below, has been drafted into the Scotland squad following injuries to midfielders Sam Johnson (knee) and Matt Scott (concussion).
Lang, 23, made his first two Scotland appearances during the summer but will not be available for Saturday’s game because exile players have not been released as it is outside the international window.
He will, though, be available for the subsequent BT Murrayfield Tests on the three subsequent Saturdaysagainst Fiji, South Africa and Argentina.
Back-row forwards Magnus Bradbury (shoulder), David Denton (head) and Luke Crosbie (jaw) have returned to their clubs for treatment.
Edinburgh coach Richard Cockerill revealed yesterday that Bradbury is likely to require surgery on a broken collarbone that is likely to rule him out for four months.
Edinburgh wing Darcy Graham has been promoted to a full squad member after training with the squad.