Highlights of each and every day of The Great Rugby
The inaugural Great Rugby Cycle 2019 covered 1,133 miles in March 2019 from John O’Groats to Land’s End in support of the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation.
The Great Rugby Cycle 2020 due to the COVID19 pandemic had to be postponed for a year. The Great Rugby Cycle 2021 will cover over 1000 miles in an anti-clockwise direction around Ireland in ten days from the 1st of July, taking in some of the finest scenery Ireland has to offer. The peloton will be joined along the route by rugby legends, sporting stars and celebrities from TV and Film to raise awareness and funds for the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation.
Interests: Until little ones came along it was anything that involved an adventure, a little adrenaline and a physical challenge. I lived in running trainers, a helmet or a wetsuit and loved any type of training/event which also involved a social element! My now husband then came crashing into my world and put a stop to all of that 😉 We now have 2 young daughters and a 3rd baby on the way so most of my interests now revolve around being a mum whilst also trying to keep up some training to maintain my fitness (and sanity!).
Reason for doing the challenge: I haven’t managed to do a charity event since having children and The great rugby cycle in support of the My Name’s Doddie Foundation seemed like the perfect event, such an incredible cause with a amazing group of people. I was originally set out to do the full mileage in 2020, only 4 months after our 2nd daughter was born but now being 30 weeks pregnant I think I’m in an even worse position! My plan is to not have a plan, listen to my body and enjoy the miles in the saddle that I can.
Special needs teacher from Glenariffe
A relative newcomer to cycling, having taken it up less than two years ago.
“Hailing from The Glens of Antrim I’m no stranger to hills but I’m certainly NO queen of the mountain! I signed up for The Great Rugby Cycle as I wanted a major challenge for 2021 and have always wanted to explore the best cycling routes in Ireland. That I can do it with a great group of people, while raising money for such a fantastic cause only adds to my motivation.”
52 years old
Occupation - IT Director
Interests -Rural tourism and farm diversification
I have become a keen cyclist since the first lock down where I have met some inspirational women. When I was told about this challenge and why the challenge is taking place, I could not help myself but want to join it.
I am aware of the devastating, fatal effects of Motor neurone disease and am committed to raising awareness of this dreadful disease and to fund raise for much needed research.
Where you live: Comber, Co Down
Interests: Sport, particularly Soccer, Golf and Cycling
Other info: Past Chairman of Ballinamallard United Football Club, Past Captain of Donaghadee Golf Club, presently a member of Killinchy Cycling Club and a Axa Community Volunteer Bike Leader
A former Captain of Rugby at Stonyhurst College, Laurence lived in Hong Kong for 12 years, playing for the Hong Kong National Team in the inaugural Asian 5 Nations in 2008. Since retiring from the game (3 times!) through injury, he has become a true MAMIL, leaving Hong Kong (and Investment Banking) in 2016 for a 2-year sabbatical in the French Alps where he became acquainted with all the famous Cols in the Southern Alps around Briançon, completing the Étape du Tour in 2017 and La Marmotte in 2019. This was no mean feat for this 100kg+ former backrow forward, who now lives in Woodbridge, in the much flatter county of Suffolk (!) but what he lacks in natural cycling ability, he makes up for in mental strength: something that he expects to be tested again as he digs deep to raise as much money as possible to help combat MND. Laurence is married to Julia, and they have two children. He is currently a Rugby Coach and French Teacher at Framlingham College, Suffolk, and Head Coach at Woodbridge RFC.
My name is Margaret and I love a challenge! I have a few under my belt, but The Great Rugby Cycle will be biggest task to date!
When my friend Catriona told me, she had signed up for this challenge, I picked up the gauntlet right away. My sporting activities are important to me not only for the health benefits but also for the social network of friends I have made and continue to make at training sessions and events.
I would like to wish the My Name'5 Doodie Foundation, the organisers, volunteers and participants every success in this event.
May the wind be at our backs and the sun upon our faces!
See you there!
Age; 53 years old
Married with one 15-year-old daughter , Tory, wife Angela. Both my wife and I work in the Pharmaceutical Industry. We live in Ballymena but hope to escape soon. Been cycling for 6 years, mainly fair weather, longest trip Mizen to Malin about 4 years ago. Longest day cycle Wicklow 200.
Absolutely terrified of the thought of 10 consecutive days in the saddle and how sore my ass will be, but it could not be for a better cause. I played some very bad rugby at Ballymena many years ago and am a great believer of the ethos behind the sport. Fantastic challenge for a great man and a great cause , just wish to God I had started training last year !!!!
Occupation: Semi-retired. Took the opportunity to take early retirement in 2018 having worked for Openfield, the UK’s largest grain marketing cooperative, where I headed up the development of grain storage distribution sites.
Interests: All sport particularly rugby and cycling. Walking the dogs, the great British countryside and travelling. Privileged to be President of Winchester RFC.
Why this challenge: Am beginning to ask myself exactly that question! Not really. I lost my wife and soulmate Kate to MND in December 2014. She was 50. I knew nothing about the disease prior to her diagnosis and together with son Will thought we’d better try and raise awareness for others and hopefully a few quid. Kate would have expected nothing less from her boys. So, at 58 I bought a bike and we established CycleForKate.
So why this particular challenge? Both the rugby and farming communities have shaped my life and in the last 6 years raising the profile of MND in our own small way through cycling has been so rewarding on so many levels. So, The Great Rugby Cycle for Doddie ticked every box particularly as I have never cycled this far in as short a timeframe before and each challenge our teams have done has to be a bit tougher than those before. So here I am. Look after me folks!
Age: 52 years
Occupation; Senior Medical Examiner Officer
Retired from playing rugby so took up triathlon, love cycling, baking, and eating cakes, reading and Scrabble.
reason for doing the GRC - doing this with my sister who lost her husband to MND 21 years ago, when her children were tiny. It is such a vile disease, and it has been heart-breaking watching my niece and nephew grow up without their dad.
Where are you from: Belfast
Interests: Skiing, hiking and anything that involves testing my limits!
Occupation: Corporate restructuring advisory firm.
Other info and why doing the challenge:
I am doing this challenge for two reasons - the combination of pushing myself to the limit and raising funds for a truly incredible cause. I have never cycled further than 50 miles prior to taking on this challenge so am nervous and excited in equal measure.
I sort of Covid style celebrated turning 50 in February
I have been raising money for MNDA for 25 years as my first husband and dad to my children was diagnosed with MND in 1995, he died in 2000 aged 40.
I have done a range of things to raise money, mainly running based, pushed my friend who has MND round Brighton Marathon but have also had my head shaved, organised a rugby match with a rugby memorabilia auction, IM triathlon and in 2018 cycled London to Paris which is where I met Liz O’Connor who persuaded me to do this ride. I in turn persuaded Steve and my big sister Sarah to join me.
I am anticipating it being the toughest challenge yet, but nothing compared to living with MND.
Ran an engineering business for 25 years and now restore classic cars.
Hobbies include, Kitesurfing, triathlon (currently training for Ironman Bolton in July) Hiking, Sailing, Rugby coach for 15 years.
I would consider myself adventurous last year I completed the 3 passes trek in the Himalayas.
I have met Doddie on three occasions, and when I watch the BBC documentary I was moved to tears,(I did not know about his condition till then)
I signed up for this challenge the same day, to help in any way I can.
Age 50. From Edinburgh, Scotland but living in Belfast since 2015.
Occupation: Chief Executive of Royal Belfast Golf Club
Cycling & Rugby. Walking or running with our two dogs. Reading sporting autobiographies.
I have been a supporter of the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation since 2018. Originally from Melrose in the Borders hence the connection with Doddie.
Always like to push the boundaries for the events I plan. This will be a great way of seeing more of Ireland and enjoying the ‘craic’ along the way.
Age 53. From Ballymena, via Orkney and Melrose.
Occupation. Dentist at Galgorm Dental
Any form of fitness - Cycling, Running, Gym & Boxing being the main ones. Coaching Youth Rugby at Ballymena and Athletics (Hurdles) at Ballymena & Antrim Athletic Club
Stu’s brother, and like him, I have been a supporter of the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation for three years. Lived most of my childhood in Melrose, hence the connection with Doddie.
Did the last two legs of the first Great Rugby Cycle and the Mizen to Malin Challenge.
Competed Internationally for Scotland & N. Ireland at Athletics (400m Hurdles). Played rugby for Ballymena & Melrose.
Occupation: Maths Teacher
Interests: Anything on GCN. Cricket but mostly I just ride my bike now.
Why I am doing this challenge?
Having coached rugby for many years in school I was aware of Doddie Weir’s diagnosis. This is an excellent opportunity to help and further add to my collection of 'miles' which takes up much of my life.
Interests: Rugby, Cycling, Gaelic Football, Hurling, X-Box
Reason for doing the challenge: I heard about Doddie and his charity from my dad and Uncle. I have seen Doddie's interviews and watched my dad complete various different challenges. This inspired me to do a leg of "The Long Weekend Doddie Cycle". Now I want to challenge myself further and help to raise more funds to fight this terrible disease.
Occupation: semi-retired having sold my business last year.
I enjoy cycling, running, and swimming and am currently training my body to train for an Ironman triathlon in the coming years.
This is my second trip with Stu. I lost 2 great friends to MND. Paddy McGreevy in 2009, and Steve Bell in 2019.
I love the way a group of individuals come together to raise money for MND under the auspices of My Nam5s Doddie charity and pool their efforts and fundraising. Together we are greater than the sum of our parts.
Interest: surfing fell running open water swimming deep sea diving cycling triathlons.
I am married to a wonderful lady Hayley.
I have also done the Inca trail for are local St. John’s hospice in which we raised £220,000 with an amazing group whom all had a story to tell !
Occupation: Sports Marketing
Interests: Travelling, hiking, ocean water sports, cycling, family & friends
Other info and why doing the challenge:
For those who would love to join us and cycle around Ireland but are unable. Because I can. To cycle around the beautiful country of my heritage, and complete a first, but definitely not the last, adventure with the one and only Ollie Phillips.
Occupation: Retired Midwife
I am a keen cyclist and I enjoy training at the gym. As a member of North Down Cycling Club there is nothing that I enjoy more than being out on our club runs and stopping off at some amazing coffee stops! I also enjoy participating in cycling sportive and events throughout Ireland.
Other info and why doing the challenge:
To be perfectly honest initially I was rather selfishly drawn to the challenge of the trip. Then I began to learn more about MND and the devastating effect it has on individuals and their families. I have been struck by the courage and motivation of those behind this campaign and I realise how fortunate I am to be able to support in this small way. I have cycled MizMal twice both epic trips and fabulous fun. I truly cannot wait to start this next journey and to be part of The Great Rugby Cycle 2021
Interests: Football, Cycling, Travel.
I took up cycling on a fairly serious basis about 12 months ago as part of my rehab / recovery from being hit by a car 4 years ago in London which had mounted the pavement, the impact of which instantly sliced off the lower part of my right leg.
Other info: As a Leeds lad I have seen the impact of MND on two of the city's most influential sportsman - former Leeds United & England football manager Don Revie who died in 1989, and Leeds Rhinos & England rugby league legend Rob Burrow - as well as lifelong Leeds fans such as Belfast's Colm Davis.
Therefore, I am aiming to raise funds for Doddie's Motor Neurone Disease (MND) Foundation in honour of Doddie, Rob, Don, Colm and all other sufferers of this disease.
Where you live: Maguiresbridge Co Fermanagh
Interests: I enjoy all sports but mainly Football I support the greatest team in the world 😉 the mighty Liverpool, keen follower of local gaa as well when I am not cycling
Other info (why you are undertaking the challenge): I recently completed malin 2 mizen in 2019 and was looking for another challenge an worthy cause my friend Jeff Aitken suggested this, so I signed up
Occupation: Currently enjoying a break from employment after the collapse of the Arcadia group. Prior to this I was a regional business manager overseeing Arcadia sites within NI & Eire, I do hope to return to work in the not do distant future. However, at present the time off is allowing me to devote more time to what I love... Cycling and swimming!
Where you live: Bangor.
Interests: Any type of activity that keeps me fit! Most of my time is taken up with either the family, cycling, swimming, walking, or renovation works on a 100-year property that we acquired 2 years ago.
Other info (why you are undertaking the challenge):
This will be my third trip with Stu, and I am hoping that it is as good as the other two. We have seen some amazing sights whilst cycling through Ireland and had plenty of laughs on the way! I am also looking forward to testing the Guinness in each county to establish who pours the best pint.
Age: 63 (3rd Feb ’58)
Occupation: Quantity Surveyor (for a building contractor)
Interests: Supporter of Liverpool FC (attend around 6 matches a season)
Committee member of local amateur football club, also run the line (love the abuse)
DIY – renovating my boys properties.
Born and bred in Lancaster, attended Rilpey St Thomas CE School, gained qualifications (RICS) at University of Central Lancashire (Formerly Preston Polytechnic) Married with 3 boys & 3 Granddaughters.
Cycled the odd Sportive, C2C & C2C2C
Age: 38 (Looking 58!!)
Occupation: Founder, Optimist Performance & Director at PwC.
Interests: I used to have loads: adventuring, travelling, exploring and the like. Now, i have two kids, so all that fun stops!! 😉
Reasons for doing the challenge: I have been a friend of Doddie’s for nearly twenty years. He was one of the first people that I met during my time up at Newcastle Falcons and he was as warm and welcoming then, as he is today. The man is a force of nature and, sadly, nature is trying to cut short his time with us right now.
MND is cruel and the impact it has on its victims and their loved ones is cowardly and brutal. If me cycling 1,000 miles helps to raise funds and awareness that can eventually bring to an end such brutality, then I will be sat on that bike until I am told to stop. Life is about memories and creating those memories with amazing people and communities. The Great Rugby Cycle is one of those fabulous communities that wants to create a memory that also makes a difference and that for me is exactly where I want to be.
Age 41. From Edinburgh, Scotland (but raised in Cheltenham and via Oxford and Bath ending up in
Being active, playing / watching most sports
Private equity fund
I have had 2 injury related false starts at joining Stu on these amazing endeavours over the last few
years so ‘looking forward’ to this one. My legs and backside might not be as enthusiastic given I have
done less miles on the bike over the last 3 years than we are now doing in 3 days but should be a good
challenge and for an incredible cause. I never played a rugby match with Doddie but have had the
good fortune of being in his company on a number of occasions, most recently sharing a lot of pints at a
Borders reunion in 2019; an incredible human being whose courage and outlook on life is truly
Interests: Cycling (member of NDCC), running.
(Member of NDAC), swimming and sport in general. Played competitive golf for many years before taking up triathlons.
Occupation: Retired in 2018 to allow for triathlon training!
I previously trained as a nurse in general and paediatric nursing. After a break to raise the family, I then worked as a Practice Manager in General Practice for 15 years.
Qualified and successfully competed in the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii in 2019.
Really enjoyed the ‘Long Weekend’ in 2020 cycling around Northern Ireland. This was a previous event organised by Stu.
I love challenges - I think this cycle around Ireland is going to be a big one! Really looking forward to it.
Also enjoy doing anything to help athletes or sports people who no longer can participate through injury or illness.
Aged 57 from Belfast.
Played rugby for Scotland, Glasgow, Kilmarnock, Ulster, Malone, and the variety of other clubs in England, Scotland and Ireland who would have me or let coach.
I had the pleasure of touring New Zealand with Doddie and subsequently playing with and against him. In recent years I have also sadly learnt of others, including friends, suffering from, and dealing with MND. It is a privilege to be part of this peloton, taking up this challenge and both personally and on behalf of others, helping to raise awareness and funds into MND research.
The day job is providing: Secure document storage, management, scanning and destruction. Promoting BIG heat pumps delivering zero carbon district heating and cooling solutions and ISO Standards consultancy and auditing services – therefore plenty to discuss if having any difficulty sleeping.
On a lighter note, I help coach at Campbell College, I am still playing for The Perennials R.F.C a veteran’s team, focused on fun and enjoyment, in raising funds for local causes – with the motto:
“rich in decaying matter”.
I am also part of a recently established Mixed Ability Rugby Team the “Malone Tornadoes” providing adults, with varying degrees of physical, mental, or learning differences, the opportunity of playing full contact rugby, being part of the club a team and treated as just another rugby match.
Excitingly both The Great Doddie Cycle around Ireland and the Mixed Ability World Cup have been rearranged for 2021.
Com’n the Doddie
My Name’5 Doddie Foundation