Scottish Rugby has issued an apology to the family of Siobhan Cattigan and vowed to learn lessons after admitting they should have “managed a tragic situation better”.
Cattigan died suddenly in 2021, with her family believing that rugby-related head injuries had caused a rapid decline in her health.
Her parents said in a later interview that “something catastrophic” had happened to her brain function and led to her death.
While no cause of death was given at the time, Cattigan’s death has been at the centre of discussions about how to handle repetitive brain injuries in rugby. The 26-year-old, who won 19 caps between 2018 and 2021, had suffered two concussions while playing for her country.
Scottish Rugby’s chair John McGuigan made the apology while speaking at the organisation’s annual general meeting on Saturday.
“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,” he said.
The official also admitted that Scottish Rugby had not acted well in the aftermath of Cattigan’s death, and should have offered condolences to her parents at the time.
“He said: 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.”
McGuigan did not make an admission of liability on the organisation’s behalf but he vowed that lessons would be learned and that Scottish Rugby would make changes for the future.
“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,” he added. “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.
“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.
“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.”
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