SHEILA Begbie, the SRU’s director of rugby development and a highly influential figure within Scottish sport, is to retire in the summer.

One of the most popular and respected administrators with the governing body, Begbie has spent nearly seven years at Murrayfield, the first three as head of women’s and girls’ rugby. 

Her career before that switch to rugby was spent within football, first as a player who won 25 Scotland caps and then, for 16 years, as the SFA’s head of girls’ and women’s football. She gained a reputation there as an adroit diplomat and a calm, efficient administrator - qualities which have also been much in evidence since her change of sports.

“I can honestly say I have had the best years of my career at Scottish Rugby,” Begbie said yesterday in a press release. “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.”

The SRU plans to appoint a successor to Begbie, and will advertise for external applications in the coming weeks.