Scottish Rugby’s hierarchy to address publicly the death of Siobhan Cattigan

Scottish Rugby’s hierarchy is expected to address publicly for the first time the death of Siobhan Cattigan when the governing body holds its annual general meeting at Murrayfield on Saturday.

Siobhan Cattigan, who played 19 times for her country, died last November at the age of 26. Picture: Ross MacDonald - SNS
Siobhan Cattigan, who played 19 times for her country, died last November at the age of 26. Picture: Ross MacDonald - SNS

Capped 19 times by Scotland, Cattigan died in November 2021. In an interview in the Sunday Times last month, Cattigan’s parents said that “something catastrophic had happened to Siobhan’s brain” and believed their daughter’s death was 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.

“We believe that what happened was brought on by the undetected brain disease caused by repetitive brain injuries received on the rugby field,” said Neil Cattigan, her father. “I am also convinced that if someone had referred Siobhan to a neurologist at any point during her illness she would still be with us.”

The Cattigans have joined a lawsuit alleging that rugby authorities could have done more to prevent the brain damage suffered by many players.

SRU chief executive Mark Dodson will speak at agm. Picture: Alan Harvey/SNS

Saturday morning’s agm will feature speeches by John Jeffrey, the chairman of the Scottish Rugby Board, Mark Dodson, the SRU chief executive, and Ian Barr, the organisation’s outgoing president. Some, if not all, are expected to reference the Cattigan tragedy.

The SRU has previously said in a statement that “there are details and assertions about how our people are said to have acted that we do not recognise, or accept”.

One of the most serious claims made by Cattigan’s partner Ann Taylor and the family allege that Cattigan told them she heard someone on the sidelines shout “get her f***ing back on that pitch, get her back on” while 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 SRU is “categoric that this phrase was not heard or said”.

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The seriousness of the Cattigan case will overshadow the procedural aspects of the agm which will see Colin Rigby ratified as the SRU’s new president. The Stewart’s Melville member succeeds Barr and will take over for the 2022-23 and 2023-24 seasons having served as vice-president for two years.

Member clubs will elect a new vice-president, with Hazel Swankie of Dunfermline RFC and Keith Wallace of Haddington RFC the two candidates.

Elsewhere, Jeffrey is expected to use his chairman’s address to reflect on the performance of the national side following the loss of the summer Test series in Argentina and a disappointing Six Nations campaign which saw Gregor Townsend’s side defeated in three of their five games.

The worrying plight of the Scotland Under-20 side is also likely to be referenced following their run of 14 consecutive losses.

Dodson will provide a financial overview in which he is expected to shed light on Scottish Rugby’s £5.528 million operating loss for the year to May 31 despite Murrayfield sell-outs against Australia, South Africa, Japan, England and France and the CVC Six Nations investment.

A delay to the audited accounts means that they will not be presented until the second part of the agm next month.

One aspect sure to be noted is the £880,000 poured into the SRU’s US project team Old Glory DC, which is looking increasingly like a financial folly.

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