SHEILA BEGBIE has taken over the role of Director of Domestic Rugby on a permanent basis. She has been doing the job informally since Keith Russell departed in mysterious circumstances in May, having initially become part of the Murrayfield machine when recruited from the Scottish Football Association in August 2014 for the newly created position of Head of Women’s Rugby.
“Her new remit will focus on the health and development of Scottish Rugby’s grassroots, amateur game (men and women, boys and girls) and the delivery of Scottish Rugby’s ‘Agenda 3’ – the union’s club sustainability strategy,” said a Scottish Rugby statement.
Begbie will oversee the biggest ever overhaul in the way men’s club rugby operates if Chief Executive Mark Dodson’s controversial Agenda 3 scheme comes to fruition as planned in time for the 2019-20 season.
There is no doubt that she is a competent administrator, and the SRU may feel that her previous lack of hands-on involvement with the club game can assist her in dispassionately pushing through the proposal – but that could also feed a growing sense of unease within that strata that it is being manipulated into a dangerous position by a governing body with little empathy or understanding of the challenges faced at the pit-face.
Begbie said: “I’m really looking forward to working in the domestic game. There are great volunteers and some fantastic work going on in clubs and schools up and down the country.
“We have a great opportunity to develop vibrant rugby communities and I’m looking forward to the journey and to making a difference.”
Dodson said: “Sheila has done a fantastic job since joining Scottish Rugby three years ago and we’re delighted to have someone of her calibre step into such a vital position in the Scottish game.
“I’m sure she’ll bring her energy and dynamism to the amateur game across the country.”
Scottish Rugby’s Director of Rugby, Scott Johnson, added: “This is a wonderful appointment for a very, very talented individual who has continued the great work she did with Scottish football with an outstanding contribution to women’s rugby in this country. Her experience and influence is now set to benefit Scotland’s grassroots game as a whole.”