It’s not often that Scottish rugby finds itself in the very vanguard of the game, but it has taken up exactly that position following the SRU agm’s decision to vote a lady, Dee Bradbury, as vice-president. She will likely make Scotland the first tier-one rugby nation to boast a female at the very pinnacle of game when she inherits the top job from Rob Flockhart in two years’ time.
Bradbury beat Ian Barr and John Davidson into second and third place in the ballot respectively, winning with a small majority.
“Today’s election has resulted in an historic day for Scottish rugby, not only Scottish rugby but for Scottish sport,” said SRU boss Mark Dodson, offering his stamp of approval. “We have had the election of the first female president in tier-one countries. I think there are only two other countries in world rugby (with a female president). We had three strong candidates, three candidates with experience across the piece. I would happily work with any of them.
“We happened to have elected Dee Bradbury and I think its a historic day for the sport and for Scotland in general. I am delighted that Shiela Begbie, when she joined us, said that she wanted a pathway from the playing field to the board room and we definitely have that now.
“We have Shiela who is a senior manager and the head of women’s rugby. We have Leslie Thomson who is a non exec on the board and now we have the first female vice president and president to be. So from my point of view I am very excited about that, delighted about it.”
Bradbury is a retired police officer and the mother of Edinburgh’s promising No 8 Magnus and age grade prop Fergus.
She first chanced upon rugby at the Mull Sevens and obviously liked what she saw because she started up Oban Lorne’s women’s section just to give herself a place to play.
“I am delighted that the clubs have had the vision to support me in my campaign and vote the right way, in my mind,” said a delighted vice president after Saturday’s meeting.
“I am looking forward to the challenges, of which there will be plenty, but I am a retired police officer. I don’t work any more, so I have the time and the resources to devote to it. I am really looking forward to working with Rob Fockhart and the executive.
“We are all strong characters. I probably have less experience in the field of rugby than the other two candidates, but that shouldn’t detract from taking the game forward. I’d like to think that what I bring is an honesty and a transparency and hard work and perhaps a fresh perspective to take things forward.”
During the hustings had she encountered any resistance from rugby clubs across the country on account of her sex?
“If I am perfectly candid I did expect that I might experience some of that, but I didn’t, which was refreshing, entirely refreshing,” Bradbury replied.
“And I think that indicates just how forward-thinking some of the clubs are.” There was a nice little cameo after the meeting when Begbie and Bradbury, two women at the very top of the game and close friends, met and gave each other a huge hug by the side of one of the back pitches where the head of the women’s game was casting her eye over a group of teenage hopefuls...all girls.
Begbie was enthusiastic about the future of the women’s game, saying that the SRU had fielded 150 enquiries after the women’s sevens in Rio.
Increasing numbers of women taking up high-profile positions within the sport will surely help attract more young girls into the game?
“I really hope so,” replied Bradbury. “Girls and women can see that there is a way forward for them both as a player and in any role with Scottish rugby.
“It should reinforce the fact that Scottish rugby, compared to other sports, is very well integrated and that can only be positive for the women’s game.”