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Dundee-born Scotland captain Jamie Ritchie treasures first and last meetings with ‘inspirational’ Doddie Weir

The Doddie Weir Cup has speical significance for Scotland after the great man's passing.

Scotland captain Jamie Ritchie will always treasure his last meeting with the late Doddie Weir, but also his first.

Dundee-born Jamie was presented with the match ball from Doddie before the New Zealand test at BT Murrayfield just two weeks ago.

After a six-year battle with Motor Neurone Disease, the much-loved and 61 times capped British Lion died at his home in the Borders on Saturday, aged just 52.

The ceremony before the All Blacks game was one of the most emotional experiences ever at Murrayfield, as both teams came to the tunnel to greet Doddie and the 67,000 crowd gave him a standing ovation.

First meeting at Madras dinner

But Ritchie also remembers his first meeting with the great man, when the now Scotland skipper was just a 15-year-old junior with Madras FP, in his home town of St Andrews.

“It was my first ever rugby club dinner, at Madras,” he said. “I had just been called up to Scotland Under-16s and after his speech he invited me up on stage.

“He gave me a signed ball with a personal message on it. It’s something I’ve always treasured.”

Doddie was “a special man” to all the Scotland players, he continued.

“Yesterday’s news was tough to take for so many people, which proves how much of an inspiration Doddie was,” he continued.

“Doddie was so special to all of the Scotland players. The strength and courage he showed over the last six years to keep fighting in the face of such a terrible diagnosis was an inspiration to everyone, not just the playing group.

“As well as his achievements on the pitch, his personality was so infectious. We would often hear stories about him off the field, about how he was an incredible character and teammate.

“He was someone we all looked up to.”

‘I will cherish that honour forever’

The ceremony two weeks ago was a special one for everyone present at Murrayfield, he added.

“The honour of receiving the match ball from him at the All Blacks match is a moment I will cherish forever,” he said. “The ovation he received was extremely fitting and demonstrated how much he was loved by our nation, and how much he will be missed.”

Despite his condition, Doddie spent the last six years raising millions of pounds for MND research.

“Now more than ever it is important we continue the fight against MND and carry on his legacy,” said Jamie. “My love goes to Kathy,the boys and all of Doddie’s friends and family at this sad time.”

Gregor Townsend was a long-time close friend of Doddie. Their playing careers ran parallel for the Borders, Scotland and the Lions.

He was an inspiration to all, said the Scotland head coach.

“The news of Doddie’s passing is incredibly sad for his family and the whole of Scottish Rugby,” he said. “But it’s also a time to celebrate Doddie’s life and what he’s achieved, particularly over the last few years.

“His fight against MND and his fight to find a cure for the illness has been inspirational. I know it’s inspired so many people around the country to raise a lot of money for the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation.

‘He will have a huge legacy’

“That in turn brought together his friends as well as rugby clubs and communities across Scotland and further afield.

“Doddie will have a huge legacy as he’s made such progress in finding a cure for MND. Breakthroughs are already being made because of his determination.”

The final bow at Murrayfield had been a fitting tribute to the man, said Townsend.

“It’s a sad time for us all. But it was great to see him receive the ovation and love that he earned a couple of weeks ago when he presented the match ball before our game against the All Blacks.

“It touched everyone in the stadium and those watching on TV. I know he means a lot to our players. On behalf of the Scotland team our love and thoughts go to Doddie’s family.

“We want to pay tribute to the big man who has made a huge difference. He had a deep impact on the lives of so many over the last few years.”