SRU AGM: Chair John McGuigan issues apology to the family of Siobhan Cattigan

“During my meetings with Siobhan’s family we discussed the range of actions we could take together to maintain Siobhan’s memory. This discussion is ongoing."

Scottish Rugby Chair John McGuigan. Image: Craig Watson
Scottish Rugby Chair John McGuigan. Image: Craig Watson

JOHN MCGUIGAN, the new Chair of Scottish Rugby, used this morning’s AGM to issue a full and lengthy apology to the family of Siobhan Cattigan, acknowledging that though the organisation “did not intend to cause distress to the family through our actions it’s clear we should have managed this tragic situation better”.

This statement comes after McGuigan made contact with parents Neil and Morven Cattigan, and her partner Ann Taylor, initially through a third party before meeting them in person.

“We have listened and heeded the lessons and, in Siobhan’s memory, commit to making changes to ensure we are a better organisation in the future,” added McGuigan.


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McGuigan said:

“Siobhan was a hugely talented rugby player who played for Scotland, earning 19 caps. She was passionate about rugby being a committed ambassador for the sport, alongside her significant academic achievements and charity work. Siobhan’s kind, empathetic nature and loyal, supportive manner meant she was a well-loved player, role-model, colleague and friend. It was therefore incredibly sad that such a positive, talented person passed at the age of 26.

“I’m therefore very grateful to Mr and Mrs Cattigan and Ms Taylor for inviting me into their home and providing a deeply personal account of Siobhan’s time with Scottish Rugby.

“Having listened to the family I want on behalf of Scottish Rugby to say sorry.

“As the new Chair of SRL I wish to apologise wholeheartedly for any anguish we caused Siobhan during her time with Scottish Rugby and to her family and loved ones following her passing.

“Albeit Scottish Rugby did not intend to cause distress to the family through our actions it’s clear we should have managed this tragic situation better. We have listened and heeded the lessons and, in Siobhan’s memory, commit to making changes to ensure we are a better organisation in the future.

“Her parents, Neil and Morven, explained to me that joining the Scotland squad in 2018 was an incredibly proud moment for Siobhan and her family. However during her time as an international player with Scottish Rugby until her passing and thereafter, her family and friends firmly believe Scottish Rugby should have done more to support Siobhan and her memory.

“On joining the Scottish Rugby Ltd Board as Chair in June this year I was very keen to meet with Mr and Mrs Cattigan to understand their perspective and to find an appropriate way to honour and celebrate Siobhan’s life as an international rugby player and support initiatives that were important to her.

“When Siobhan was with the Scotland squad her parents told me there were some situations when we, as Scottish Rugby, should have supported her better. They told me Siobhan had specifically mentioned medical and welfare care, as well as how information around selection was communicated.

“We also take responsibility for Scottish Rugby’s handling of certain elements surrounding Siobhan’s funeral, including not relaying the family’s wishes to every player which meant some of Siobhan’s team-mates did not get the opportunity to attend her funeral. We also let the family down by not directly contacting the family nor visiting after Siobhan’s passing to offer our condolences.

“Since Siobhan’s passing there have also been other events which should have been handled differently by the organisation, this also relates to how we referenced Siobhan and we recognise that Siobhan is one of “our people” too

“Siobhan’s family and friends appreciated that both Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh Rugby honoured Siobhan’s life as a Scottish international player.

“However Scottish Rugby should have handled; amongst others, the tribute made at Murrayfield prior to the Six Nations game vs Ireland in 2023 more sensitively. We acknowledge the family’s criticism that the tribute should have taken place at a much earlier opportunity, with Siobhan’s top laid down and been held when the players of both teams were on the pitch.

“As Scottish Rugby we are fully committed to support the family’s work to maintain Siobhan’s memory.

“During my meetings with Siobhan’s family we discussed the range of actions we could take together to maintain Siobhan’s memory. This discussion is ongoing.”

Professor Lorne Crerar, Chair of Scottish Rugby Union Custodian Board, said:

“The decision by Neil and Morven Cattigan to engage with John McGuigan is a significant one and we know how difficult it must be to express their concerns. We hope the ongoing dialogue with Mr and Mrs Cattigan, our unambiguous statement that we are sincerely sorry for those events prior to and following Siobhan’s passing where Scottish Rugby should have done better and which have regretfully caused her family unnecessary distress, and our commitment to learn important lessons and work together going forward, will ensure Siobhan ‘s life as a Scotland international and force for good in society is never forgotten.”


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About David Barnes 3800 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

7 Comments

  1. Major culture change at EH12 is essential, if the SRU is ever to regain respect from all quarters. Such fundamental changes to long-embedded attitudes, behaviours and operational practices, cannot by definition be effected overnight.

    Chapeau to SRUL Chairman McGuigan for taking the initiative in this instance, but with legal proceedings set for the High Court, on top of an ongoing investigation by the Crown Office and Procurator Service there is an extremely long way to go on all of this.

    Meanwhile the game continues to develop and expand globally, as rugby hurtles down the slippery slope of almost unrestrained professionalism and the accompanying commercial pressures – a breeding ground for the types of sleaze-bags sitting pretty at or near the seats of power….

  2. Perhaps if the SRU would develop promote and earmark funds for grass root rugby we could go toe to toe with some of theses wild hard men of South Africa, Ireland and France. With all due respect to our public school boys (and I speak as a former public school chap) we might find our own wild hard men. Where are our border farmers of yesteryear. I suspect the main reasons are a CEO who is totaly money driven not rugby driven and a coach who is well out of his depth. I think I have mentioned this before. Never mind lets see how the 6 goes although I must admit to having more than a bit of trepidation about our forthcoming campaign.

  3. Perhaps if the SRU would develop promote and earmark funds for grass root rugby we could go toe to toe with some of theses wild hard men of South Africa, Ireland and France. With all due respect to our public school boys (and I speak as a former public school chap) we might find our own wild hard men. Where are our border farmers of yesteryear. I suspect the main reasons are a CEO who is totaly money driven not rugby driven and a coach who is well out of his depth. I think I have mentioned this before. Never mind lets see how the 6 goes although I must admit to having more than a bit of trepidation about our forthcoming campaign.

  4. It has taken this immoral incompetent excuse for a governing body two years to finally find the decency to offer this hollow apology.

    Five years ago Scottish Rugby wheeled out their President to apologise for their handling of the Keith Russell affair and promised lessons would be learned. Clearly the lesson of how to behave in a decent civilised manner has not be learned.

    In both cases the common denominator is the CEO who notably has still has not found the common decency to apologise to either parties. Shameful.

    Clearly the words spoken here by Mr McGuigan can mean nothing as long as Dodson is in place. Time and time he has been proven unfit for office and yet he remains not only uncensured for the harm his behaviour has caused but rewarded for his actions.

    Is there nobody with any integrity within Scottish Rugby who will stand up and speak against him or have they all got their snouts too deep in the trough?

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  5. A great pity that Messrs Dodson and Jeffrey didn’t acknowledge the role their insentitive, adversarial position on the matter of an independent enquiry played in the distress caused to Siobhan’s family and partner. A tragedy that even basic brain injury protocols weren’t followed by the coaching staff after Siobhan’s serious concussion at training and by the so-called medical staff after the family sought their help and support in finding appropriate intervention. So much for our supposedly world-renowned leadership on concussion 😠!

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