Sheila Begbie to retire from Scottish Rugby role in summer 2021
Scottish Rugby’s Director of Rugby Development Sheila Begbie has announced she will retire in summer 2021.
Sheila joined the organisation in August 2014 as Head of the Women & Girl’s programme, a position she held for three years before taking on responsibility for the development of the grassroots game in Scotland.
As Director of Rugby Development Begbie oversaw a complete restructuring of Scottish Rugby’s Rugby Development department, creating a new regionalised model of delivery to clubs which saw a network of Scottish Rugby teams deployed in the regions to work on the ground with clubs, schools and local stakeholders.
The new approach to working more closely with clubs and schools also saw de-centralised decision making from BT Murrayfield into the regions. Begbie’s aim was to see clubs and regional stakeholders empowered, involved in decision making and working towards finding ‘local solutions for local issues’.
Her department developed and was delivering a national development strategy covering all aspects of the game, which has subsequently been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The regionalised network has kept clubs informed and connected during lockdown periods and ensured public health and Government guidance has effectively reached clubs and schools across the country in recent months.
Speaking on her decision to retire Sheila Begbie said: “I can honestly say I have had the best years of my career at Scottish Rugby. It has been a hugely challenging and enjoyable experience from the outset.
“I have had fantastic support from the many colleagues I have been fortunate to work with, both in the Rugby Development department and across the organisation.
“I would make special mention of Scottish Rugby CEO Mark Dodson who has been an unwavering supporter of the work I have done, and his leadership and friendship have been both empowering and supportive throughout.
“My role has enabled me to develop close connections across the clubs and schools in Scotland, with the clubs being the heartbeat of the game, and I would like to pay particular thanks to the army of volunteers who every day give up their time to support the sport they love.
“I hope I have had a positive impact on rugby in Scotland over the past seven years and wish everyone connected with the game well in the years ahead.” Sheila Begbie MBE
Begbie will remain in post to support both the Return to Rugby programme planned to roll out in line with an eventual easing of lockdown and to support the transition process with her successor.
Scottish Rugby will be opening an external application process in the coming weeks.
Scottish Rugby Chief Executive Mark Dodson said: “I would like to record my thanks to Sheila for the significant contribution she has made to Scottish Rugby over the last seven years.
“Her proactivity and experience have enabled us to completely refocus how we worked with clubs the length and breadth of the country and she deserves huge credit for successfully undertaking that work, which has generated a greatly improved local connection with our community clubs.
“Sheila has made a big difference to our organisation firstly in the women and girls programme and then the Rugby Development department and I’ve greatly enjoyed working with her.
She leaves behind a real legacy and we wish her well for her retirement.”
Scottish Rugby President, Ian Barr said: “Sheila was a breath of fresh of air when she came in and it didn’t take her long to gain the confidence of the clubs. She is very approachable and has a real ability to listen which in turn led to great engagement and consultation.
“Sheila and her department have recently helped manage us through one of the most difficult times club rugby has had to deal with, so we will genuinely be sad to see her go.
“I’m glad there will be a handover period and we can keep working with her in the months ahead and she will leave with our thanks and best wishes when the time comes.”
John Jeffrey, Chairman of Scottish Rugby said: “We will all miss Sheila and wish her a happy retirement.
“She took on a huge task when appointed into the Rugby Development role and went about making necessary changes to how we work with our community clubs, which I believe will hold us in good stead for the years ahead.
“She has been a driving force for positive change and is respected across rugby in Scotland.
“Her department play an essential role to develop and grow the game and through her leadership it is well placed make a positive impact once rugby can resume.”