SRU announces completion of Cattigan review – but has yet to share conclusions

Governing body is still awaiting advice before deciding what is "legally appropriate" to put into the public domain

Siobhan Cattigan. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Siobhan Cattigan. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

SCOTTISH Rugby announced this morning that it has now received the results of the “fact-finding exercise” that it commissioned to investigate events surrounding the death of Scotland international Siobhan Cattigan. Two of the governing body’s three boards met a fortnight ago to discuss those results, but, while they say they want to make public as much of the findings as possible,  they are awaiting legal advice before doing so. 

Back-row forward Cattigan died in late 2021 aged 26. Her family said at the time that “it had got to the point where she could no longer live with the pain in her head and Siobhan succumbed to an irrational thought and impulsive action”.

She had been concussed while playing, and the Cattigans believe that the SRU’s medical care was inadequate and was a contributing factor to her death.

The statement from Scottish Rugby says:

“The Scottish Rugby Limited (SRL) and Scottish Rugby Union (SRU) Boards met on Friday, 7 July, to discuss the results of an objective fact-finding exercise commissioned by SRL into the events and circumstances before and after the tragic passing of Scotland international Siobhan Cattigan in November 2021.

“The external review was undertaken by Pinsent Masons LLP, following its instruction in the summer of 2022. The review’s scope included – but was not limited to – examining some specific questions and allegations raised either directly to Scottish Rugby or through the media.

“Siobhan’s passing is the subject of an ongoing investigation by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS). Scottish Rugby is committed to providing its full support to the investigations undertaken by COPFS.

“Scottish Rugby is determined to share publicly as much of the review as possible. That being said, her passing may be the subject of a civil legal claim. Therefore, Scottish Rugby is carefully considering what information is legally appropriate and possible to share publicly at this time. Legal advice from Pinsent Masons has been sought in this regard.

“If any lessons can be learned by Scottish Rugby from the decisions taken and events occurring around Siobhan’s passing, we are fully committed to doing so. As a matter of practice Scottish Rugby continuously reviews its existing processes to ensure they support a well-established and unwavering commitment to player welfare. This is a focal point in light of this current review. Scottish Rugby has contributed extensively to international medical studies and player guidance around concussion awareness for the past decade.

“Actions taken by Scottish Rugby that are considered at the forefront of the sport globally include:

  • Playing a central role in developing the now globally recognised ‘If in doubt, sit them out’ concussion awareness guidance, in place since 2014.
  • Launching the UK’s first Brain Health Clinic at Murrayfield in 2022 to enable former international players to manage their mental health and well-being.
  • Being one of the first Unions starting in 2021 to bring in mouth-guard technology to increase knowledge of head impacts on professional players.

“Scottish Rugby’s leadership wishes to express its deepest and most heartfelt sympathies to the Cattigan family, Siobhan’s friends and teammates during what continues to be a very sad, challenging and difficult time. Scottish Rugby remains willing to meet and engage with the Cattigan family should they wish.”

About Stuart Bathgate 1360 Articles
Stuart has been the rugby correspondent for both The Scotsman and The Herald, and was also The Scotsman’s chief sports writer for 14 years from 2000.

14 Comments

  1. Unless I’m mistaken is it not the case that Pinsent Masons are the SRU’s appointed lawyers? If that’s correct then surely this potential conflict of interest will always beg the question as to whether this is a bona fide “external review” as stated by the SRU. Why would the SRU not appoint an independent organisation to undertake a review so they couldn’t be accused of bias? I don’t get it, surely they are brighter than that aren’t they?

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  2. Not sure it can be an ‘independent ‘ review when the body conducting the review is one with whom you have a contractual relationship. For some, no matter the review findings, the outcomes will be tainted given the distrust with those at the head of the SRU, some of whom have ‘form’.

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  3. I don’t intend to defend the SRU who have made a mess of this whole situation. But the responses below aren’t really warranted.

    The PR says the report will be published – obviously it would be presented to the SRU boards before it is made public, there is simply nothing out of line there.

    Secondly, it is a question of due diligence to get legal advice on what can be published – presumably the report may contain significant personal information relating to Siobhan Caittigan, her family, players and coaches. Under GDPR the SRU would need to make a proper legal assessment of how to handle personal information otherwise it could lead to further legal action against it, that is before considering the role of this investigation in any future legal proceedings.

    The SRU must be held accountable for how it has handled this matter, but that isn’t helped by people suggesting prosaic and responsible processes are somehow evidence of malign intentions.

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  4. Almost two years for the SRU to investigate themselves and even then they won’t tell anyone what the results are presumably in fear of making themselves look even more pathetic than they already do.

    The weasel words in the final quote in the article is the final insult to the family.

    Only the seriously deluded can believe the SRU have handled this with any degree of competence or integrity.

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  5. Appropriately handled in my opinion, Scottish Rugby is doing the right thing by taking their time on this and gets the facts correct.

    As usual those who have an agenda against the SRU are piping up and sadly taking advantage of the situation.

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  6. This might be the pragmatic legal position. But it looks pretty shabby to not publish the findings in case they get sued. If the report contains information that would support that case, then the SRU really need to take responsibility for their past actions.

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    • There is the opportunity to demand ‘Disclosure’ if there is legal action taken.

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  7. To conduct an independent review you need a third party not your own bloody lawyers FFS

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  8. Mon dieu! That “external” review by the SRU’s own solicitors took an entire year. How many people can Pinsent Masons have interviewed….. to get to this stage, with still zero disclosure? Something very fishy here.

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  9. Leaving aside for a moment, the deep underlying personal family tragedy – what an unholy administrative / legal / governance mess the much-vaunted “Custodians” of our game appear to find themselves in here. As these minnows of sport and corporate management continue to sit uncomfortably on their nervous palms, they are millions of miles away from their hot air about improving stakeholder relations, providing clarity, along with a re-building of trust across the Game…..

    Re-assurance? No, me neither!

    As most must all be hoping for an early positive conclusion to this thoroughly dreadful matter, with numerous pertinent questions answered satisfactorily for Ms Cattigan’s family, friends and team-mates – let no-one overlook the deficiencies in the Governing Body’s understanding of “external” and “independence” in a corporate / legal context. That might well suggest that the firm of Pinsent Masons, the Union’s own retained solictors / legal agents were never the best choice to undertake a 3rd party review of such a delicate and sensitive issue.

    Unless, of course, the original intention was to sit on the findings and wish the whole inconvenient matter would simply go away, or be kicked down the road to get brushed under the EH12 boardroom carpet with the passage of time.

    There are several disturbing undertones in all of this, especially the SRU’s tedious handling of the matter, adding further grief and anguish to the over-arching tragic loss of a young woman who clearly deserved better from those with a duty of care.

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  10. Leaving aside for a moment, the deep underlying personal family tragedy – what an unholy administrative / legal / governance mess the much-vaunted “Custodians” of our game appear to find themselves in here. As these minnows of sport and corporate management continue to sit uncomfortably on their nervous palms, they are millions of miles away from their hot air about improving stakeholder relations, providing clarity, along with a re-building of trust across the Game…..

    Re-assurance? No, me neither!

    As most must all be hoping for an early positive conclusion to this thoroughly dreadful matter, with numerous pertinent questions answered satisfactorily for Ms Cattigan’s family, friends and team-mates – let no-one overlook the deficiencies in the Governing Body’s understanding of “external” and “independence” in a corporate / legal context. That might well suggest that the firm of Pinsent Masons, the Union’s own retained solictors / legal agents were never the best choice to undertake a 3rd party review of such a delicate and sensitive issue.

    Unless, of course, the original intention was to sit on the findings and wish the whole inconvenient matter would simply go away, or be kicked down the road to get brushed under the EH12 boardroom carpet with the passage of time.

    There are several disturbing undertones in all of this, especially the SRU’s tedious handling of the matter, adding further grief and anguish to the over-arching tragic loss of a young woman who clearly deserved better from those with a duty of care.

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  11. “legally appropriate”??!! How about what is ETHICALLY APPROPRIATE? How can Pinsent Masons conduct an “objective review”, including seeking confidential information on the case from the Crown Office,when they are then paid to give SRU/L legal advice on the matter!? I’ve got a wall at the croft house that needs whitewashed.

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