Scotland international rugby player Siobhan Cattigan has died suddenly at the age of 26 – with her death thought to be non-suspicious.
Siobhan, who won 19 caps for her country, died on Friday, Scottish Rugby announced last night, with her club Stirling describing it as a ‘tragic passing’.
The cause of death is unclear, with Scottish Rugby saying it will provide ‘support’ to those most affected. Police Scotland have not been made aware of the rugby star’s death, suggesting it is non-suspicious.
A statement from the governing body read: ‘Scottish Rugby is deeply saddened to hear Scotland international Siobhan Cattigan has died. The thoughts of all our people and players go out to Siobhan’s family and many team-mates at Stirling County and Scotland at this incredibly difficult time.
‘Specialist Scottish Rugby employees are now providing ongoing support to those most closely affected.’
Siobhan was a vocal advocate for female players and frequently took to social media to blast sexism in the sport.
She previously revealed how sexist abuse had forced her to give up the sport while at school. Siobhan said she was called ‘manly’ and bullied for being the only girl on the school rugby team.
Friends and colleagues were ‘in shock’ over the news last night.
Scotland international Siobhan Cattigan has died aged 26, Scottish Rugby has announced
She previously called out sexism in the sport and attempted to encourage more women to take part
Police Scotland have not been made aware of the rugby star’s death, suggesting it is non-suspicious
In August 2020, she hit out at an ad agency for advertising women’s rugby kits with models – while international players advertised the men’s versions.
She wrote: ‘I gave up playing rugby in high-school after being bullied for being the only girl who played. I got called a man, muscly and many other derogatory things.
‘As a young and impressionable 14 year old this hugely impacted me and I gave up the sport that I had a clear talent in because of other people’s narrow minded opinions.
‘It took a random decision at 19 to go back to rugby and give it a go at uni and, one uni team, one club team and 14 caps for my country later and I haven’t looked back since. I promised myself that day I would never let others opinions alter my life again.’
Responding to sexism on Twitter last year, she also said: ‘Opinions like this are the reason I stopped playing the game I loved in high-school for 5 years.
‘It is only down to luck I went to uni & decided to started playing again. If I continued to care about opinions akin to the below I’d not be sitting here with 14 caps for my country.’
Siobhan made her Scotland debut against Wales during the 2018 Six Nations. She also started all three matches in this year’s edition of the tournament.
She most recently represented her country in a World Cup qualifier against Spain back in September.
She began playing the sport at the age of five and was a passionate advocate for female players.
She joined McLaren Minis in her hometown of Callander, where her father was the team coach and also a player.
Siobhan studied Criminology and Sociology at the University of Stirling before completing a Masters in Sports Psychology.
Cattigan previously talked about how she gave up the sport during high school because of sexism, before picking it up again at university
Cattigan (passing the ball) in action during a Six Nations game between England and Scotland
The back row, who won 19 caps for her country, made her Scotland debut vs Wales in 2018
During her time in high school, she received the War Memorial Prize in recognition of her charity work for Yorkhill Children’s Foundation.
A statement from Stirling after her death said: ‘It’s with a heavy heart we pass on the news of the tragic passing of Siobhan (Shibby) on Friday November 26.
‘Shibby has been a big part of County for many years and will be hugely missed by everyone at the club. She was central to the development of women’s rugby within the club and an inspiration to the girls in the youth section.
‘Shibby was a team-mate and friend and we deeply mourn her loss. Our love, thoughts and heartfelt condolences are with Shibby’s family at this devastating time.
‘We very much hope their privacy will be respected by everyone as they deal with their tragic loss.’
Tributes poured in from across the game after Siobhan’s death was announced.
England’s head of women’s rugby Rachel Burford and England rugby world champion Rocky Clark MBE also passed on tributes and support.
‘My thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to Siobhan’s family, friends and teammates,’ Buford wrote.
Clark described the 26-year-old as ‘a great woman’.
World Rugby chairman and former England captain Sir Bill Beaumont said: ‘Deeply saddened to hear of the tragic passing of Scotland international Siobhan Cattigan. She was a fine player and an inspiration to many.’
Former Welsh international and Barbarians player, and the current Sale Sharks women’s coach, Rachel Taylor wrote: ‘Such tragic news, thoughts are with family, friends and the Scottish rugby community at such a difficult time.’
Rugby 7s Olympian Abbie Brown wrote: ‘Thoughts go out to my Scottish friends and her family.’
Rugby development officer at Falkirk Rugby club Duncan McKinstray added: ‘Devastating news, my sincerest condolences to her family, friends, teammates at Stirling County and former teammates from Stirling University.’
Former Scotland men’s captain Andy Nicol reacted to the ‘very sad news, thoughts with Siobhan’s family and friends.’
Football coach Craig Joyce and Scotland and Olympic basket all star Kieron Achara also paid tribute after the ‘utterly heartbreaking’ and ‘tragic’ news.
Aileen Campbell added: ‘Sending condolences to all who knew and loved Siobhan on behalf of everyone @ScotWFootball xx.’
And Scotland’s national football team tweeted: ‘Sending our deepest condolences to Siobhan’s family, friends and all those at @Scotlandteam.’
France Rugby tweeted: ‘This is a sad time for rugby… Condolences to her family, her friends, her club and the all Scottish rugby.’
Dougie Cameron, Chief Operating Officer at Edinburgh Film Festival, tweeted: ‘This is such sad news. My thoughts are with Siobhan’s family, Stirling County, and all our friends in the rugby community. What an incredible talent and life cut short.’