THE parents of Siobhan Cattigan have issued a forceful reminder that their anger and desire for answers from Scottish Rugby on its role in their daughter’s death in November 2021 is as fierce as it was when they first raised concerns back in July of last year.
The grieving couple issued a blistering statement on social media this morning in which they accused the governing body, and specifically chief executive Mark Dodson, of dishonouring the former Scotland back-row forward’s memory by twice cancelling meetings with Sue Webber, the Conservative MSP who has taken up the case on their behalf.
“We were hopeful questions could be posed, answers provided and arrangements for an independent inquiry that is so desperately needed be set in motion,” said the statement.
“After hearing the second meeting had been cancelled at short notice, we were devastated. Could he not find an hour in his schedule in over two months to discuss what we firmly believe to be a totally avoidable tragedy and what no-one should want to become a stain on Scottish Rugby?”
An SRU spokesman said that Dodson is now looking for a suitable alternative date in the next two weeks.
The Cattigans have previously argued that a lack of proper treatment for brain injuries sustained whilst playing or training in the Scotland squad led to their daughter’s death, aged just 26.
It has been reported that the family have joined a lawsuit alleging that rugby authorities could have done more to prevent the brain damage suffered by many players.
In this most recent statement, they reissued their request for Scottish Rugby to commission an independent inquiry into the tragedy, and reiterated their view that their daughter’s death has not yet been appropriately commemorated by the governing body.
This latest development comes just days after the women’s team at Liberton rugby club in Edinburgh was disbanded amid accusations of “misogynistic, racist and homophobic comments and behaviour” by the club’s committee, and the statement makes reference to this.
“Sexism, bullying and intimidation are most definitely not confined to local rugby clubs,” it asserted. “It happens at elite levels and Scottish Rugby chief executive Mark Dodson and others at the top of the game can lead the way if they want to by doing the right thing for the right reasons, a start would be by allowing an independent inquiry to take place.
“Continuing to ignore us and an MSP is dishonouring Siobhan’s memory. She gave almost five years of her life playing for Scotland. She mattered and she still does. She deserves to be remembered and revered. She deserves to be honoured.”
“The SRU had months before any intimation of legal action yet refused to acknowledge, far less honour her in this time but they continue to deflect, deny and refuse to engage. Is the idea to kick the can down the road until those at the top are long gone? If they have nothing to hide, they have nothing to fear from an inquiry. Let’s make Siobhan’s legacy a safer future for all rugby playing women, its what she lived doing, helping others.
“It is our emphatic belief that if Siobhan was a male member of the Scottish Rugby team, she would have received the proper medical care and attention which she should have been guaranteed.
“It is inconceivable that Scottish Rugby would not mark the passing of a current international, and it is not too late to honour her. Recognition of her life and contribution before one of the Six Nations games is the least they can do.
“Siobhan always has and always will make us the proudest parents, our champion and hero, and that we have to plead for her to be acknowledged is an insult to her memory and heartbreakingly painful for us.”
— Teenysproudpapa (@teenyspapa) January 30, 2023
Scottish Rugby have so far resisted all calls for an independent inquiry, with Dodson claiming after last August’s AGM that: “There are a number of people looking at a number of things at the moment. It is not a review. It will try and establish the facts. That is what we are trying to do. Facts and timeline.
“This may end up in court proceedings and this may be the most appropriate place for this to end up.”
This fact-finding mission is apparently on-going, with the help of external legal advice. A cynic might describe this as preparing a legal defence.
Certainly, there has been no progress report since the AGM, which, along with Dodson’s double-cancellation of his scheduled meeting with Webber, strongly suggests that properly addressing the issues raised is not a burning priority.
Meanwhile, Lorne Crerar – who is Chair of the ‘Custodian Board’ which now sits at the summit of Scottish Rugby’s new governance structure and which is responsible for oversight of all aspects of the organisation – said shortly before taking office in October that he expected this issue to be high on his list of priorities.
“Clearly anything that has a significant effect on the brand of Scottish Rugby will have an influence on the Custodians’ views, and clearly this is a matter of considerable public interest,” he said. “It will certainly be part of one of the initial agendas of the Custodian Board.”
One thing is for sure, the Cattigans are not going to let this matter be swept quietly under the carpet.