By Allan MacDonald
I owe Siobhan Cattigan a huge debt of gratitude.
It was the first time I had taken my daughter to rugby. She’d always turned down the chance to come to Murrayfield with me but, after going with the school, she asked if I would take her to see Scotland Women play Canada.
We cheered as Siobhan and her teammates carried ball after ball through heavy traffic and we were gutted at the thoroughly undeserved but narrow loss.
As we left the stadium, she turned and asked if I would take her to rugby training. The season ended with me proudly watching as she played in the girls U15 final at Murrayfield. Rugby has been a significant bond for us ever since, through some difficult times, and I will be forever grateful for that.
We were both dismayed to learn of Siobhan’s untimely death. And then angered by David Walsh’s article in the Times, particularly to read about the way the SRU had dealt with Siobhan’s heartbroken family.
Then there was the bizarre statement from the head of the players union, which was quickly discredited as the squad made it clear they had not been consulted and the head of their union was not speaking for them.
It’s clear from the article Siobhan’s partner and family firmly believe she was failed by the SRU.
When adverse events happen, it is essential that the circumstances are thoroughly and dispassionately examined, so that the learning can be applied, allowing systems and processes can be improved where needed.
Doing so requires the humility to ask the difficulty questions which lead to learning and to then take those lessons on board. I do not believe the SRU at a corporate level has the necessary humility to do this.
Look at the press conference given by the union, where the pugnacious defensiveness of Mark Dodson’s and John Jeffries’ responses contrasted sharply with the humanity of Dr James Robson’s. I have every confidence Dr Robson’s team will have asked the difficult questions and learned what they could.
I cannot say the same for the wider SRU. Those are my reasons for doing this. Others may not agree, and that’s fine. But I think we can all agree that we have lost a player who played the game we all love, and played it well.
Siobhan Cattigan died far too early, and that’s a tragedy however you look at it.
I hope you’ll consider standing and applauding with me for the 8th minute of each of the coming Autumn Internationals in honour of Siobhan, starting with the Australia game.
You can follow Allan on twitter @OldGeneralist and please let your friends attending the games know using the hashtags #8thMinuteOvation and #RememberSiobhan on social media.
(You can listen to our podcast episode discussing Siobhan and the SRU here – ed).