DEE BRADBURY was confirmed as the first female President of a Tier One rugby nation at Saturday’s Annual General Meeting of the Scottish Rugby Union. It was a seminal moment in the progress of rugby towards becoming a truly progressive and inclusive sport, but the retired police officer, who is the mother of Scotland international back-row Magnus, is determined to be more than just a pioneer for equality.
She embarks on her two year stint in office at an interesting time, with two major reviews ongoing: into the Keith Russell affair/the use of non-disclosure agreements for departing SRU staff; and into updating the governance model of the organisation to fit the modern game.
As if that isn’t enough, a long-overdue consultation process with the clubs over the implementation of the Agenda 3 overhaul of the club game and the impact of creating a Super 6 league at the top of the domestic structure is now underway, thanks to a motion proposed by Aberdeen Grammar being voted through with an overwhelming majority.
Plenty to be getting on with then, and Bradbury – who has spent much of the last two years shadowing outgoing President Rob Flockhart as he has tried to accommodate the conflicting demands of an increasingly agitated club community and an executive hellbent on solidifying and strengthening their grip over the game in this country – says she can’t wait to get stuck in.
“I’m not going to stand up like Germaine Greer. That’s not the reason why I’m here. I’m here because I hope I’ve got the right qualities to bring to the role, and it’s incidental that I’m female,” she said.
“33 per cent of our staff at Scottish Rugby are females. We’ve got far more representation on Council and Board from females [than ever before], with people like Lesley Thomson, Rosy Hume, myself and now Hazel Swankie. I would like to think women are there for the right reasons not simply because of their gender,” she added.
The AGM heard that the internal enquiry into Russell’s sacking is now going to be expanded to look at 14 occasions in the last seven years when non-disclosure agreements were signed by non-playing staff, with a leading Edinburgh law firm being brought in to provide assistance. Bradbury plans to be a part of that process.
“I’m here as chair of Council, and the Council represents the stakeholders. I would like to have a meaningful input into that,” she said, before restating the stance of Murrayfield’s top brass that the recent furore does not reflect a deeper problem with the management culture fostered by Chief Executive Mark Dodson.
“I’ve been part of Scottish rugby from the periphery, as a player and a coach, through to where I am today. If that culture existed, I wouldn’t want to be part of that.”
Certainly, her club rugby credentials are excellent, having built up a vast wealth of experience of the game at grassroots level, despite coming to the sport late in life.
“I always had a background in sport, mainly netball and athletics, then I was at Mull Sevens one year when I was 38 and I thought: I need that in my life,” she explains.
“So, I spoke to a girl I played netball with – who was Jonah Lomu’s cousin believe it or not – and we set up the ladies section [at Oban Lorne rugby club] and it went from strength to strength.
“I did all the different roles at the club, washing strips, driving mini-buses, coaching the minis. Then I was asked to join the women’s forum here [at Murrayfield] and progressed through the ranks to where I find myself today.
“Magnus starting to play happened around the same time. They [her two sons] had watched Mull Sevens too and expressed a desire that they wanted to play, and I am so glad that they did.”