Rugby legend Barrie McDermott takes on dance challenge

RETIRED international rugby league player Barrie McDermott has been learning new moves as he is one of 11 celebrities taking part in the Rob Burrow Strictly Ball on Saturday, March 19.

The 49-year-old from Grotton admitted to being well outside his comfort zone as he prepares for the dance event, which is being organised by Leeds Hospitals Charity.

Barrie McDermott and dance partner Dawn Evans

Barrie is well on the way to raising £7,777 – seven was Burrow’s shirt number – and said: “I am not a dancer. I am an ex-rugby league player with a broken body and absolutely no rhythm and cannot stick to the beat of the music.

“Since I retired, I have done challenges largely based on climbing and distance and I embrace physicality which is part of my nature.

“This is something I have never done before and I have a new-found respect for dancers as there are so many movements and components in a routine – your feet, head and shoulders can all be moving in different directions at the same time.

“I have enjoyed the challenge as I like to do things outside my comfort zone, but I can safely say I am not a dancer.

“I wouldn’t do it for anyone else. Rob Burrow is truly inspirational his big heart and his unrelenting spirit is a lesson for us all.

“The real purpose apart from raising money will be to give Rob a laugh and entertain him which I am sure it will do knowing his sense of humour.”

Barrie in training

Barrie will be competing against a celebrity field including Iestyn Harris, another retired rugby great from Oldham; television doctor Amir Khan, Line of Duty actor Nigel Boyle, television presenter Sally Nugent and politician Yvette Cooper.

He admitted there will be rugby rivalry between him and Iestyn as to who comes out on top, though both families will share a table on the night.

Money and sponsorship raised from the Rob Burrow Strictly Ball, which is being held at Headingley, will go towards building the Rob Burrow Centre for MND.

The Rob Burrow Centre will help give people living with MND the best quality of life.

Barrie, who praised the charitable nature of Oldhamers, continued: “With your donations and sponsorship we can build a state-of-the-art MND care centre to give people with MND and their families the best possible care and support.”

Dawn Evans, from Shaw-based Madd for Dance, is Barrie’s dance partner.

She said: “Barrie has done really well, bless him. He was scared at the start because it is different to anything he has done before.

“When he wore Cuban heels for the first time that was a shock. He said the feeling must be like wearing stilettos.”

Barrie, who has been in training since Christmas, thanked Dawn and Sean and Carol Madden from Madd for Dance, and Kelly Tattersall from Oldham Community Leisure for their support.

To sponsor Barrie, go to

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