Striding on to the pitch with his sons to deliver the match ball at Murrayfield during the Scotland v New Zealand showdown last November was an “emotional” moment for Doddie Weir.
Clad in his customary tartan suit, his three boys wearing matching scarfs, 67,000 fans broke into rapturous applause as they welcomed the rugby legend’s return to the stadium. Now, almost two years since his diagnosis with motor neurone disease (MND) in December 2016, the former lock has penned his life story as a legacy to his three sons, Hamish, Angus and Ben.
He said: “That was one of the reasons [for writing the book]. I’ve put it together to show the kids what I’ve been up to.”
Researching his autobiography, My Name’5 Doddie, was a “humbling” experience for the 48-year-old who earned 61 caps in his ten years playing for Scotland.
He said: “I can’t believe what people have been saying.
“If Jim [Telfer, mentor and former Scotland coach] had maybe told me some of those things before, I might have been a better player!
“Because he shouted at me all the time I thought he didn’t like me too often but he must have seen something there that I never quite saw.”
“I’ve been very taken aback and humbled by some of the statements that have been involved in the book.”
The book charts Doddie’s childhood in the Borders, his rugby career and more recently, living with MND, an incurable condition that stops signals from the brain reaching the muscles.
Writing the book and working with his foundation, which raises funds to aid research into MND, have helped Doddie, who was once described by commentator Bill McLaren as being “on the charge like a mad giraffe”.
He said: “Being busy has certainly helped. It has given me another lease of life, another purpose to try and keep this MND to a minimum.”
With an average life expectancy of one to three years, Doddie is tackling the condition head-on.
From a distance, not much has changed with the 6ft 7 inch former player. He is friendly and relaxed, the only obvious sign of his MND are his hands, which can’t fully grasp the book he’s holding.
He said: “I can still do lots of things: eat, sleep, breathe, walk, talk, drink, party [but] I might be a little bit slower.
“Just even doing my shoelaces – which might not be a big thing to some people – it takes so much energy but I can still do it and that gives me a massive positive.”
But self-pity is not in the script for Doddie. He said: “Putting pen to paper has been a fantastic exercise, I’ve been very fortunate and I’ve no regrets.
“To go back and see that every day has been with a smile [it’s a] reminder of how lucky I’ve been.”
The book has been co-authored by longtime friend and sports journalist Stewart Weir.
Doddie said: “With the propelling issue that I don’t know how much time I’ve got left I wanted to do it for myself and for my family and friends and the supporters who maybe think I’m the daft laddie, who I can be sometimes.
“But down there, there’s sometimes the serious side of things.
“It’s about generating your own luck and who you are and keeping smiling and being happy with what you do.”
Doddie is hoping that some special silverware might return to its rightful home after the Doddie Weir Cup match between Scotland and Wales in Cardiff on November 3.
He said: “[Scotland] are doing really well at the moment and it would be lovely to see Doddie’s cup come back to Murrayfield.
“It’s very special having a cup named after you. It’s a great honour because I’m still living – you normally get that when you’re not here but I’m going to enjoy it. I’ve got a new suit ready to rock and roll too.
“It’s going to be a good game because both teams are firing.”
Doddie’s family will join him in Cardiff to watch the match in aid of his My Name’5 Doddie Foundation.
He said: “Again, it’s another area we’ve been very lucky as the Weir family; to enjoy things together so my wife and kids can be involved.
“It gives them memories and hopefully those memories continue for a long time.”