SCOTLAND rugby legend Doddie Weir has passed away aged 52 after a brave six-year battle with motor neurone disease.

The news of Doddie's passing was shared by Scotland Rugby along with an emotional message from his family.

The dad-of-three played for Scotland and the British Lions at international level and for club sides Stewart's Melville, Melrose, Newcastle Falcons and Border Reivers.

He had been diagnosed with motor neurone disease in December 2016.

The much-loved rugby icon then founded the My Name'5 Doddie foundation to raise funds to aid research into the cruel disease and support those battling the illness.

To date, the foundation has raised more than £8million to aid research projects across the UK.

Doddie attended Scotland's recent international test against New Zealand at Murrayfield just two weeks ago where he was given a standing ovation by fans in his final public appearance.

Players also wore the Doddie Weir tartan colouring the numbers on special shirts for the match to commemorate the fifth year since the foundation was launched.

Now, the devastating news of Doddie's passing has been announced with a touching tribute from wife Kathy and his sons Hamish, Angus, Ben.

A statement from the Weir family read: "It is with great sadness that we announce the death of our beloved husband and father, Doddie.

"Doddie was an inspirational force of nature. His unending energy and drive, and his strength of character powered him through his rugby and business careers and, we believe, enabled him to fight the effects of MND (Motor Neurone Disease) for so many years.

"Doddie put the same energy and even more love and fun into our lives together: he was a true family man. Whether working together on the farm, on holiday, or celebrating occasions with wider family and friends, Doddie was always in the thick of it. We are lucky to have shared our lives with him and we cherish all those memories: his love and warmth, his support and advice, his quick wit, and his terrible jokes. It is difficult to put into words how much we will miss him.

"MND took so much from Doddie, but never his spirit and determination. He battled MND so bravely, and whilst his own battle may be over, his fight continues through his foundation, until a cure is found for all those with this devastating disease.

"Hamish, Angus, Ben and I would like to thank everyone for your support and for respecting our privacy at this difficult time. Kathy Weir"

A British & Irish Lions statement added: "We're devastated to hear of the passing of Doddie. A Scotland legend, his determination to raise awareness & help find a cure for MND epitomised his personality. Our thoughts are with his family, friends, all connected with Scottish Rugby and his charity."

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also paid tribute to Doddie as she sent her condolences to his grieving family.

A tweet from Ms Sturgeon read: "This is so terribly sad. Doddie was one of our nation’s sporting legends, but the brave way he responded to MND surpassed anything ever achieved on the rugby pitch. He refused to let it dim his spirit and did so much to help others. My condolences to his loved ones."