Siobhan Cattigan: SRU responds to lengthy and harrowing interview over tragic rugby player

The Scottish Rugby Union has issued a statement in the wake of a harrowing interview with the family and loved ones of Siobhan Cattigan, who passed away last year.

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Scotland’s Siobhan Cattigan during the anthems before the Women's Six Nations match between Scotland and Italy at Scotstoun Stadium, on April 17, 2021, in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Scotland’s Siobhan Cattigan during the anthems before the Women's Six Nations match between Scotland and Italy at Scotstoun Stadium, on April 17, 2021, in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)

The Scotland Women internationalist died at the age of 26, with no cause of death given at the time. However, in a lengthy and emotional interview given to The Sunday Times, Cattigan’s parents said that "something catastrophic had happened to Siobhan's brain" and raised serious concerns over their daughter’s welfare after suffering concussion while playing rugby.

“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,” they claimed in the interview, with Cattigan’s mother Morven adding: “As time went by, I likened it to dementia, because I couldn’t think of anything that would change a personality so massively, something that completely alters you as a person. Siobhan was crumbling before our eyes and something catastrophic had happened in her brain.”

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In a Scotland match against Wales, where Cattigan picked up a head injury, Cattigan’s ex-partner Ann and the family allege that they heard someone on the sideline shout “get her f***ing back on that pitch, get her back on" while receiving treatment. The SRU responded that they "sought feedback from people who attended Siobhan during her treatment". They are "categoric that this phrase was not heard or said", but Cattigan’s family believe her mental health nose-dived after the incident, while raising concerns over suitable medical treatment and medical support from the Scotland camp. Her father, Neil, said: "Rugby gave her the happiest days and memories — and ultimately rugby is why she’s not here … they fixed her broken bones but turned their backs on Siobhan’s broken brain.”

Throughout the Sunday Times article, the SRU commented on certain claims, but the sport’s governing body released a lengthy statement on Sunday offering further clarity.

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It read: “The account of Siobhan Cattigan’s life and sad passing reported in the media today, as told by her parents, made for challenging reading. Neil & Morven Cattigan have shown enormous courage in sharing so openly details of their relationship with their daughter and the thoughts of everyone at Scottish Rugby continue to be with the family.

“In the letter of condolence sent to Neil & Morven last December from our Chairman, CEO and President of Scottish Rugby, we offered any support we could to the family, and that offer remains open.

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“We recognise this has been a very upsetting time for the Cattigan family and Siobhan’s close friends, and if any of Scottish Rugby’s actions following Siobhan’s passing have made that more difficult, then we do, of course, apologise sincerely.

“The published interview covers a significant number of topics which we are now considering carefully. We will be working through it with colleagues and advisers to learn, from their perspective, more about the issues mentioned.

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“We fully acknowledge the seriousness of what the family have shared, however there are details and assertions about how our people are said to have acted that we do not recognise, or accept.

“Respecting medical confidentiality, and with reference in the interview to a potential legal claim, we are not in a position to communicate further on any details of Siobhan’s care at this time.

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“We will continue to work closely with the many people connected to Scottish Rugby who knew and played with Siobhan to ensure they are supported at this very difficult time.”

The full interview in the Sunday Times can be read here.