ALL rugby matches are important, but some are more important than others. There will be no points at stake when Newcastle Falcons host Melrose tomorrow afternoon, no opportunity to move up or down the table. But you will not find a more significant fixture on Falcons’ schedule in the remainder of the season.

The winners of tomorrow’s game will claim the Doddie’s Club Trophy, with the Kingston Park fixture raising funds for the My Name’5 Doddie foundation, which Weir established following his diagnosis of Motor Neurone Disease.

The foundation has already raised almost £5m for research into MND, resulting in Weir, who played for both Newcastle and Melrose as well as Scotland, receiving the Helen Rollason Award for bravery in the face of adversity at this month’s BBC Sports Personality of the Year show.

“Doddie is no different now to when he played his first game for Scotland - full of beans and full of life,” said Richards, who played against the Scottish on numerous occasions for both club and country.

“He epitomises everything that this club is about - you work hard, you put everything out there on the pitch and then you enjoy yourself afterwards.

“What Doddie’s current situation says about him is what we always knew - that he is a fighter. He has always had this never-say-die attitude whereby you keep going hard right until the end, and it’s all about keeping on going. He’s always been like that.”

Richards’ Falcons are on a 13-game winning streak this season, but while promotion back to the Premiership has to be the overriding priority, there will be no question of them taking the foot off the pedal tomorrow.

“From an emotive point of view, I think this is the biggest game of our season,” said Richards. “The Championship and Championship Cup games mean nothing compared to the love we have for Doddie and the drive that everyone here has to help his foundation.

“It’s about bringing together his two old clubs for one common purpose, and that purpose is Doddie. You have to look at his whole life and not just these last few years, and not many people have done anything near as much as he has.

“Whether it’s his rugby, his speaking, his fundraising, the contribution he has made to every club he has been at - he has just lived life to the full. My own philosophy is to live life and make history, and I don’t think Doddie’s would be too far different. You’re only here once so make history while you’re here, and Doddie is certainly doing that.”

Weir was a key part of the Newcastle squad that won the Premiership title in 1998, and also captained the club to cup final success at Twickenham in 2001.

Dave Walder is another member of the current Falcons coaching staff that played with the Scot, and the head coach regards his former colleague as a true inspiration.

“He’s a fighter, and the awareness he’s managed to bring to MND is incredible,” said Walder. “The way the rugby community has rallied around him is a marker of how highly they regard him, and he has enormous respect across the board.

“He’s fighting the fight for MND in terms of raising money to try and find a cure, and he’s turning up for events all over the place when at times he must be feeling very ropey. Everything’s about finding that cure because it’s a horrible condition, and hopefully with our game we’ll be able to contribute a decent amount to that pot.”

Asked why he and others have so much reverence for the former lock-forward, Walder added: “Doddie is very warm, friendly and always has a smile on his face.”