Scotland Women players distance themselves from RPS comments on Bryan Easson in wake of Siobhan Cattigan tragedy
Members of the Scotland Women squad have distanced themselves from remarks made on their behalf by the head of the players’ representative body regarding the Siobhan Cattigan tragedy.
Bill Mitchell, the chief executive of Rugby Players Scotland (RPS), is quoted as saying that last month’s Sunday Times investigation into Cattigan’s death last November at the age of 26 does not accurately portray the character of head coach Bryan Easson or the commitment of their medical staff towards player welfare.
However, Cattigan’s former team-mates have moved quickly to disassociate themselves from Mitchell’s remarks which appeared on The Offside Line website.
A number of the squad, including captain Rachel Malcolm and senior players Jade Konkel, Helen Nelson, Chloe Rollie and Rhona Lloyd, have retweeted the article with the rejoinder: “As a squad we were never aware of this RPS article being published or the statements attributed to the team in this article. We are grieving our friend and teammate, our thoughts are with Siobhan’s family.”
Capped 19 times by Scotland, Cattigan died in November 2021. In an interview in the Sunday Times last month, Cattigan’s parents, Neil and Morven, said that “something catastrophic had happened to Siobhan’s brain”, linked directly to two serious concussion incidents she had suffered over the previous 18 months which they say had a profound effect on her personality.
They believe their daughter’s death was caused by an undetected brain injury, which led to her succumbing to an irrational thought and impulsive action.
One of the most serious claims made by Cattigan’s parents and her partner Ann Taylor is that Cattigan told them she heard a member of the coaching staff on the sidelines shout “get her f***ing back on that pitch, get her back on” while she was receiving treatment for a head injury during an international match against Wales in April 2021. She is alleged to have heard the shout through the earpiece of one of the medical staff.
The Scottish Rugby Union (SRU) is “categoric that this phrase was not heard or said”.
Mark Dodson, the SRU chief executive, has offered his full backing to Easson, who is due to lead the Scotland Women team at the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand next month.
Mitchell, the head of the players’ body, told The Offside Line: “The squad are very supportive of Bryan Easson as the coach because they think he’s been great since he came on board. Again, there are a few things Bryan doesn’t do particularly well, but there is unanimous feeling within the squad that the picture which has been painted of him and the way that he communicates is just not accurate.”
Dodson has dismissed calls for an external review into the death of Cattigan and said the SRU would “try to establish the facts”.
The Cattigans have begun legal proceedings against the Scottish Rugby Union. Speaking at last week’s SRU annual general meeting, Dodson said: “This may end up in court proceedings and this may be the most appropriate place for this to end up.”
Scotland’s preparations for the Rugby World Cup will step up next week as they prepare for a summer Test match against the United States in Edinburgh on August 27.