The Scottish Rugby Union have issued an apology to the family of the late Siobhan Cattigan, the back-rower who won 19 caps for the women’s national team before her death at the age of just 26 in November 2021. Speaking at the SRU AGM on Saturday, new chairman John McGuigan explained that through a third party, he had met in person Cattigan’s parents, Neil and Morven, and her partner Ann Taylor.
An SRU statement on their website quoting McGuigan read: “Siobhan was a hugely talented rugby player who played for Scotland, earning 19 caps. She was passionate about rugby being a committed ambassador for the sport, alongside her significant academic achievements and charity work.
“Siobhan’s kind, empathetic nature and loyal, supportive manner meant she was a well-loved player, role model, colleague, and friend. It was therefore incredibly sad that such a positive, talented person passed at the age of 26
“I’m therefore very grateful to Mr and Mrs Cattigan and Ms Taylor for inviting me into their home and providing a deeply personal account of Siobhan’s time with Scottish Rugby.
“Having listened to the family I want on behalf of Scottish Rugby to say sorry. As the new chair of Scottish Rugby Ltd, I wish to apologise wholeheartedly for any anguish we caused Siobhan during her time with Scottish Rugby and to her family and loved ones following her passing.
Scottish Rugby Annual General Meeting 2023.
— Scottish Rugby (@Scotlandteam) November 18, 2023
“Albeit Scottish Rugby did not intend to cause distress to the family through our actions it’s clear we should have managed this tragic situation better. We have listened and heeded the lessons and, in Siobhan’s memory, commit to making changes to ensure we are a better organisation in the future.
“Her parents, Neil and Morven, explained to me that joining the Scotland squad in 2018 was an incredibly proud moment for Siobhan and her family. However, during her time as an international player with Scottish Rugby until her passing and thereafter, her family and friends firmly believe Scottish Rugby should have done more to support Siobhan and her memory.
“On joining the SRL board as chair in June this year I was very keen to meet with Mr and Mrs Cattigan to understand their perspective and to find an appropriate way to honour and celebrate Siobhan’s life as an international rugby player and support initiatives that were important to her.
“When Siobhan was with the Scotland squad her parents told me there were some situations when we, as Scottish Rugby, should have supported her better. They told me Siobhan had specifically mentioned medical and welfare care, as well as how information around selection was communicated.
“We also take responsibility for Scottish Rugby’s handling of certain elements surrounding Siobhan’s funeral, including not relaying the family’s wishes to every player which meant some of Siobhan’s teammates did not get the opportunity to attend her funeral. We also let the family down by not directly contacting the family nor visiting after Siobhan’s passing to offer our condolences.
“Since Siobhan’s passing there have also been other events which should have been handled differently by the organisation, this also relates to how we referenced Siobhan and we recognise that Siobhan is one of ‘our people’ too.
“Siobhan’s family and friends appreciated that both Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh Rugby honoured Siobhan’s life as a Scottish international player. However Scottish Rugby should have handled; amongst others, the tribute made at Murrayfield prior to the Six Nations game vs Ireland in 2023 more sensitively.
“We acknowledge the family’s criticism that the tribute should have taken place at a much earlier opportunity, with Siobhan’s top laid down and been held when the players of both teams were on the pitch. As Scottish Rugby, we are fully committed to supporting the family’s work to maintain Siobhan’s memory.
“During my meetings with Siobhan’s family we discussed the range of actions we could take together to maintain Siobhan’s memory. This discussion is ongoing.”