20 February, 2023
Last updated on 21 February, 2023
Posted by Spaceships Crew
The Doddie 555 is a charity cycle ride which takes the match ball for the Scotland v Wales Guinness Six Nations Rugby match from the Principality Stadium in Cardiff to the BT Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh.
This year, 350 cyclists travelled 555 miles in 55 hours - accompanied by 2 Spaceships on the Doddie 555.
Former Scotland captain & British Lion, Rob Wainwright, with the match ball
Over the last 3 years, Spaceships Rentals has been proud to support the My Name'5 Doddie Foundation with this event which raises funds for research into Motor Neurone Disease (MND). Former Scotland and British & Irish Lions Rugby player, Doddie Weir, was diagnosed with MND in 2016 and sadly died in November 2022, aged just 52.
He devoted much of his time and energy to raising money for research into MND, receiving the Helen Rollaston Award "for outstanding achievement in the face of adversity" at the 2019 BBC Sport's Personality of the Year awards. Earlier that year, he was awarded an OBE in the New Year's Honours list.
Driven by Doddie's memory
The charity cycle ride is led by Doddie's former Scotland captain and Lions team mate, Rob Wainwright, who as the team's Commander-in-Chief, presents the match ball at BT Murrayfield. The ball bearer team also included Spaceships' old friend, Mark Beaumont, the adventure traveller and record breaking long distance cyclist.
Rob and Mark ready to ride
Rob Wainwright said: "This year marks the fourth anniversary of the Doddie Weir Cup, and it’s particularly poignant as it’s the first since Doddie’s passing in November, but this only drives us forward to continue making progress and raising awareness of MND.
“We have to believe that a breakthrough in MND treatment is just round the corner and push ourselves and others to raise funds to realise that dream."
A Royal Send-Off
This year the Doddie 555 was launched at Gloucester Rugby Club, with Anne, Princess Royal, handing the match ball into the care of Rob Wainwright, before the riders travelled from Gloucester to Cardiff for the official start of the route.
Anne, The Princess Royal presenting the match ball to Rob Wainwright
From Cardiff to Edinburgh
It was an amazing spectacle at Cardiff's Principality Stadium on a sunny Thursday in February as the riders set off on their two and half day challenge to get up to Edinburgh in time for kick-off. As well as providing a support motorhome for Rob Wainwright's match ball team, another Spaceship was launched to support a British & Irish Lions team, also team mates of Doddie on their victorious tour to South Africa in 1997.
That group included the captain on that '97 tour and England Rugby World Cup winner, Martin Johnson, as well as two Irishmen, Jeremy Davidson and Paul Wallace. All of them played in all 3 test matches against the Springboks, with Rob Wainwright also playing in the third test of the series.
Life and Soul
Martin Johnson remembered Doddie's impact on the '97 Lions: “Doddie was an inspiration to all of us, and the life and soul of one of the most important periods in our lives in South Africa in 1997. That spirit will be our motivation on this adventure. Jim Telfer famously described that tour as our Everest, but for those 48 hours, it will be the 555 miles to Edinburgh.
“Thank you to everyone who has shown their support – please keep backing us to continue Doddie’s legacy and help raise as much as we can for MND research.”
Three Lions... Jeremy Davidson, Paul Wallace and Martin Johnson of the 1997 Lions team
Riding through the night
The Mission Control Spaceship for the Doddie 555 team
The riders cycled north up through Wales, stopping for a breakfast break at Wrexham Rugby Club at the start of Day 2. They crossed the border into England before a quick lunch pit-stop at Orrell Rugby Club, again cycling late into the night. The motorhomes served as a support vehicle for our teams, so they could take a brief rest and refuel on the journey.
The riders and their Spaceship at first light
By early morning on Day 3, they grabbed breakfast at Alnwick, before pressing on up through Scotland to Edinburgh. They made it just in time to cycle the final leg to the BT Murrayfield Stadium. Rob Wainwright received a hero's welcome as he strode onto the pitch to deliver the match ball to the team captains, again in the presence of The Princess Royal.
Rob Wainwright and Anne, Princess Royal present the match ball to Scotland captain, Jamie Richie
Scotland won an enthralling game to win the Doddie Cup, presented to the winners of matches between Scotland and Wales. The cup was presented to the current Scotland captain, Jamie Richie, by Doddie's wife, Kathy, with their 3 sons also at the presentation.
Here's a final word from Rob wainwright after another successful event.
A last push
The riders' efforts raised over half a million pounds for the My Name'5 Doddie Foundation, but there is still time to donate. There are currently around 5,000 people with MND in the UK, but a further 1,100 are diagnosed each year.