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Last Updated: Monday, 23 July 2007, 10:04 GMT 11:04 UK
Exiles mourn death of Cunningham
Jarrod Cunningham
Cunningham was the Premiership's top scorer in 1999-2000
London Irish are mourning their former fly-half Jarrod Cunningham after he died at the age of 38 after a five-year battle against motor neurone disease.

From 1998-2002 he played 82 games for Irish scoring 18 tries and 848 points, and was top scorer in the Premiership in 1999-2000, with 324 points.

He was an All Blacks trialist, with only Andrew Mehrtens keeping him out of the team, and played for the Maoris.

Cunningham retired in 2002, returning home to New Zealand, where he died.


Once he was back home, he set up the Jarrod Cunningham Charitable Trust, which raised money to combat motor neurone disease.

In November 2004 he was awarded the International Rugby Board's Spirit of Rugby award in honour of his work in raising awareness of the disease through his profile as a sportsman.

The day before he died, he officially opened refurbished clubrooms at his local Havelock North Rugby Club in Hawkes Bay.

Havelock coach Murdoch Paewai said: "He was competitive in everything he did.

"He enjoyed running the ball, he didn't like to kick, and if he ran it, he wanted us there for support. We got used to it."

A statement on the London Irish website said he passed away peacefully in his sleep on Sunday.

It described Cunningham as "an inspirational human being".

Damian Hopley of the Professional Rugby Players' Association said: "Jarrod was an inspiration to all those fortunate enough to meet him, and the entire rugby community has lost a great player and great friend.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, team mates and friends."

  • A memorial service for Jarrod Cunningham will take place at Saint Mary's College Chapel, Waldegrave Road, Twickenham, on Wednesday 19 September at 1400 BST.

    Jarrod Cunningham 'joke book' fund
    10 Nov 02 |  Rugby Special
    Fatal disease hits Cunningham
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