Rob Burrow’s former coach Daryl Powell on why Challenge Cup finals day was ‘fitting tribute’

DARYL POWELL paid tribute to the late Rob Burrow CBE after his Wakefield Trinity side defeated Sheffield Eagles to win the 1895 Cup at Wembley Stadium.

The Rugby League and wider sporting community has been in mourning since the Leeds Rhinos legend passed away last Sunday having been diagnosed with motor neurone disease (MND) in 2019.

Much of Saturday’s celebration of Burrow’s life and legacy at the Challenge Cup finals day centred around the number seven, the shirt he achieved greatness in before becoming a focal point for the fundraising efforts of the Burrow family and Kevin Sinfield CBE amongst others over the last four-and-a-half years.

A minute’s silence was observed before the women’s and men’s Challenge Cup finals, while Wembley shared in a minute’s applause after seven minutes in each of the three games, a tribute that was also honoured at Twickenham on Saturday afternoon at the rugby union Premiership final.

St Helens’ number six Zoe Harris was named the Player of the Match in game one, with Wigan’s Bevan French claiming the Lance Todd Trophy before Trinity half back Luke Gale picked up the Ray French Award for the 1895 Cup final.

“I just think it’s fitting tribute for Rob today that a halfback wins the man of the match in this game,” said Powell, who was the Rhinos coach when Burrow made his full debut in 2001.

“It’s fitting that the halves have done that. Everything is about the seven today. 

“I spoke to Keith [Senior, Sheffield Eagles assistant coach and team-mate of Burrow at Leeds] afterwards and he said it’s been a horrible week. 

“Obviously, they lost today but it pales into insignificance – a game – when you have a phenomenal young man that we lose so early like we have with Rob.”

As well as the men’s Challenge Cup kick-off time being moved to 3:07pm, other tributes included banners being unveiled by Wigan and Warrington Wolves fans during the traditional performance of ‘Abide With Me’ prior to kick-off, and the number seven alongside #OneRobBurrow being painted on the turf.

Flowers, shirts, scarves and messages, which have now been transported to Headingley Stadium, were also laid at the Rugby League statue at Wembley by supporters.

First published in League Express newspaper, Issue 3,434 (June 10, 2024)

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