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An 8th minute ovation to Remember Siobhan

Siobhan Cattigan
Siobhan Cattigan

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).

23 Responses

  1. Well written and sensitive. When you see this young woman looking so very alive and happy, it really brings home the tragedy. I hope everyone joins this 8th minute tribute. Really lost for words, sad, her parents must be devastated.

    1. Thank you – I think it’s devastating for any parent to have to bury a child, and to do with so many things unresolved and no feels by that at least lessons have been learned must be impossibly difficult.

  2. I did not know this young woman, however sense the loss of one so vibrant. If that is how it impacts me, a stranger, how painful is the loss for those who do. Family, friends, university peers and teammates. You can never shake of the loss of one so young, I know from the experience. I hope the rugby community shows it’s camaraderie and ‘as one’ pays tribute at the 8th minute, where-ever they may be.

  3. I too will be honoured to do this. Nothing will ease the pain for Siobhan’s family and loved ones but it might make the SRU pause and think – let’s hope. #AsOne

  4. It was good to hear the clapping. Sadly the pundits on the telly talked all through it and didn’t say anything at all. What was it like at the match?

    1. Islands of support but my experience (and that of many others) was the people around who maybe don’t listen to multiple pods or mainline rugby Twitter were asking about it and expressing interest. Hopefully this means it will grow.

  5. I don’t hold with tokenistic virtue signalling which is all about making the perpetrator feel happy about themselves, so I won’t be taking part in this charade. Happy clapping can stay with football.
    There are major issues around how Cattigan’s sports injuries were treated which have been well documented in the press and on this Blog. To date the SRU has been less than transparent as to their part in this. I would support any initiative by a SRU member club to scrutinise the governing body and, if failings are found, hold employees to account.

    1. Dont you think the clapping will raise awareness among the Murrayfield crowd, make them read some of those press reports and get behind the next phase which is taking the SRU and World Rugby to account. That may need funding for example? In this case , I suspect the clapping will just remind the perpetrator that the consequences are far from over. What harm can the clapping do ! It is keeping the matter at the surface and building support from the fringes IMO.

    2. You’re entitled to your opinion, and it’s absolutely one I would share if this were an official suggestion from the SRU. But it’s the opposite – I’m just someone who had an idea. The aim of the clapping is for it to grow over the AIs when the eyes of the rugby world are on our games, in a bid to force the SRU into an honest and thorough examination into how Siobhan Cattigan’s injuries were managed.

      The clubs have had a chance to do this and haven’t as yet done so.

    3. HB: Why are you angry ? Or is it just me that has interpreted some frustration even anger ! First of all you don’t need to clap, secondly who said it was happy clapping, thirdly it is a minute in a game lasting about 2 hours these days, needs a bit of perspective. It is a serious subject and a demonstration that people care might be helpful in the grieving process. This is a very young life. Some may be at this time considering if they permit offspring to play this game. It is important this matter is handled correctly.

      On a lighter note, clapping is a big part of rugby tradition and respect, such as clapping good play, clapping the opposition, clapping off the pitch, if you want to isolate it to football, you are barking up the wrong tree. Clapping has long since been replaced with other gestures in football IMO.

  6. Thanks Allan for your initiative on this. Can we keep pushing for applause on the 8th minute of every match until the SRU step up and show some compassion and accountability?

    1. We might be clapping a long time, sadly. My plan is to do it throughout the AIs and then see where we’re at.

  7. Am confused, who is this ‘perpetrator’ that’s being referred too? I’ve followed bits of this story so I might have missed something. I am no fan of the SRU but am pretty sure I saw media that a strip was laid before games earlier in the year and the team have openly said they have to relive this pain every time it’s brought up. Social media I saw was targeted around their games. It had to have impact. A pending court case, means the SRU are restricted on what they can comment about I believe. IF the accusations of this case are indeed true, the family will have their justice. Until then, am going with facts and facts are, these are one sided accusations, which means not fact. Yet.

    1. I must confess I’m a little mystified as to who “the perpetrator” is, too.

      With regard to the rest, I wouldn’t have gone ahead with this without the support of Siobhan’s parents and partner. They’ve retweeted many peoples tweets and have publicly thanked those who stood to clap on Saturday.

      The 8th minute ovation campaign didn’t start until after Scotland Women’s rugby world cup campaign was over, so as not to distract in any way from their performance. It’s also worth noting the co-ordinated tweets sent by many of the squad in response to Bill Mitchell’s extraordinary interview.

      I agree we don’t know exactly what happened, but what we do know is this was a serious adverse event potentially linked to playing (and training for) rugby.

      That in itself should trigger an independent review, but the SRU have been unwilling to do so, even before litigation was joined. The rhetoric coming from the corporate side of the SRU gives me no confidence they will explore this tragic event with the necessary humility to be able to learn all they can from it.

      Hence this simple tribute, to keep this in the public view and to honour a player who played the game we all love and who died far too soon.

  8. Allan, it’s admirable what you are doing. For all the right reasons of course. Siobhan. Heart does go out to her and loved ones. My kids play and last thing anyone wants is injury that’s been alleged. We also don’t want trial by media, it’s sickening in any situation, as is media most of the time. Capitalising on grief. In my legal understanding, a review and a legal case, leading to court can’t run concurrently. I may be wrong but that’s my understanding. I do wish the SRU could be clearer though. There was a social media campaign ahead of the RWC games. Not sure the team needed that, I do feel that was unfair. I won’t be at the other games due to being out of the country, and didn’t stand at Aus game, I didn’t know. I hope everyone gets the answers they want/need and the memory of Siobhan can live on. It’s not for the media or any of us to assume what happened or place blame based on accusations, as they are unfounded so far. The perpetrator mystery remains. Maybe more about to come? Good luck for the rest of the AI

  9. Recent things I’ve heard and read about this it’s less about Siobhan and more about being judge and jury.The accusations from a family grieving around their daughters suicide are that, accusations. I was supportive of this campaign for remembering Siobhan, now it seems beyond that. It is all starting to feel a bit off, others saying that too. All we actually know is the tragic loss of a girl, way too early in her life and the cause of death. The rest is speculative and increasingly damaging.

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