Tributes paid to Wigan amateur rugby league coach following death after MND battle

Tributes have been paid to an amateur rugby league coach from Wigan following their death at the age of 58 after a battle with Motor Neurone Disease.

John Duffy, who was selected to represent a Great Britain U19s side as a player, was diagnosed with the condition back in 2021.

As a coach, he was a popular and influential figure at Wigan St Cuthberts, and is described to have left “a mark on the hearts of many.”

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The club wrote: “Wigan St Cuthberts are deeply saddened by the loss of our much loved friend, John Duffy.

John Duffy with his wife Angela

“No words can describe the loss Angela, Megan, Ryan and the family will be feeling at this very sad and difficult time.

“Many of you will remember John for his character, wit, passion and courage.

“His love for and dedication to our Club needs no justification as it has been greatly recognised in the support you have all given to John and the family on his MND journey.

“His influence is widespread in sharing his knowledge and love of our great sport.

“John - You made a difference, you have left a mark on the hearts of many.

“A player, a coach, a friend, be at peace.”

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Orrell St James also paid tribute to their former rugby league rival.

“Thinking of our friends at Wigan St Cuthberts,” they wrote.

“Our thoughts and prayers with all family and friends of John Duffy.

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“We have great memories of the matches where we faced each other, especially the Ken Gee Cup matches.

“Fierce rivals on the pitch but all having a pint and a laugh after the match.

“Rugby gives you friendships that will never be forgotten

“RIP John, from all at Orrell St James.”

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Former Barrow Raiders half-back Jamie Dallimore was coached by Duffy as a teenager and played alongside his son Ryan during their time with the Cumbrian club.

As part of a group, he has run 10k a day since the start of January to raise money to help his old mentor.

Dallimore wrote: “At 16 -17 we were introduced, from minute one I liked your presence, your desire and your passion, but most of all your love.

“You coached me as a boy playing against men and looked after me like one of your own.

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“I wasn’t the toughest on the field but you made me feel tough.

“I know you had my back, it was a pleasure to play for you mate.

“As the years went on our rugby paths crossed again.

“This time was your son and my time together on the pitch.

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“He truly is an amazing young man and we shared some memorable times together on and off the field.

“Ryan Duffy mate, your dad will be proud of the young man you are today.

“Stay strong for each other, like you have throughout this battle because you have shown tremendous strength and love for Ryan and John and the family.

“Rest easy up there John, I will never ever forget you mate.”

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Dallimore and others will continue to complete their running challenge in the memory of Duffy.