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'We were fighting a constant battle with outdated views': Three rugby players from Dornoch speak out over the controversial disbandment of Liberton women's team

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A trio of Sutherland rugby players have found themselves in the eye of a media storm after their Edinburgh-based team was forced to take a stand against their own committee, writes Peter Newman.

Hayley Ross, Suzie Munro and Rachel Smith were part of the women’s section at Liberton RFC. The team had been competing in the Caledonia Midlands/East Region League 1 until the club’s committee took the unusual step of disbanding the team claiming, “the committee can no longer accommodate the "additional needs" of a women's rugby team.”

Suzie Munro, Hayley Ross and Rachel smith.
Suzie Munro, Hayley Ross and Rachel smith.

In response, the team posted a lengthy statement on their Facebook page expressing their disappointment as well as citing, “incidents of misogynistic, racist, and homophobic comments and behaviour from the committee and other individuals at the club.”

The story has now been picked up by news organisations such as the Times and the BBC.

Originally from Dornoch, Suzie Munro said, “There seem to have been almost never-ending issues with some of the committee. They continually fail to investigate accusations fully and fairly and are immovable in their decisions.”

Teammate, and former vice captain of the side, Hayley Ross, originally from Birichin agreed. “The recent decision by the committee is extremely disappointing.

"We have always been known as the most welcoming and friendly team, but behind the scenes we were fighting a constant battle with outdated views.

“Liberton’s decision disbanding the team is incredibly jarring,” argued Rachel Smith, another player who hails from Dornoch. “Notification was given by email to all players with no explanation, no recognition of what we’ve achieved over the years and no opportunity to appeal.

It wasn’t until I read the many reassuring responses to our statement - numerous clubs, coaches, players and development officers across the Scottish rugby community offering their support, that I realised that the challenges we’ve faced aren’t acceptable and shouldn’t be normalised.

Natalie Reid, captain of Ross Sutherland’s women’s section, contrasted the experience of Liberton with developing a women’s side in Invergordon. “The club have supported us in finding sponsors and getting a team strip. We have committed coaches and regular club.”

Liberton Women's RFC in happier times.
Liberton Women's RFC in happier times.

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