How Scotland saved the 1994 rugby World Cup

It was 90 days that changed the history of women’s rugby and saved the sport for generations to come. But now the story of how Scotland rescued the 1994 rugby World Cup is being brought to the stage.

The tournament in 1994 was originally meant to be hosted by the Netherlands, but just 90 days before the event was due to start they cancelled.

Determined not to let all the hard work go to waste, Scotland stepped in as hosts and rescued the tournament, in a miraculous turn of events.

Now the incredible story is being brought to life in a stage production by ex-Scotland Captain Sandra Colomartino, Scotland fullback Sue Brodie, and Scottish screenwriter Kim Millar.

90 Days will premiere at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh on 12 April.

Set in the 1990s, and told through the eyes of the players, the production discovers how Scotland’s first women’s rugby team was created and how they became the unlikely saviours of the World Cup.

The story lifts the lid on the huge challenges and prejudice the women’s game faced in the early years.

And it reveals for the first time the events that led to the last minute cancellation of the Women’s Rugby World Cup which left Holland and New Zealand’s Black Ferns effectively banned from taking part.

‘Having had the honour of being Scotland’s first women’s rugby captain, I felt it was time to give something back to the sport I love,’ said creative director Sandra.

‘The idea to make 90 Days a theatrical production was I really wanted this story to appeal to all, not just the rugby community.

‘We’re using music as well as comedy to bring this story to life. 90 Days is a story of self-belief, empowerment and sheer bloody mindedness.’

Sue Brodie, chair of So Strong Productions said: ‘I can’t quite believe it’s 30 years since the 1994 Women’s Rugby World Cup in Scotland and I am proud to be a part of this amazing team which has brought 90 Days to the stage on its anniversary.

‘This is a story of those who played, and those who were sanctioned not to attend.

‘It is one of passion and determination, but most importantly the story shows that the collective effort was bigger than any one player, administrator or team and that the impact 30 years on, for International women’s rugby, was greater than anyone could have imagined.

‘I was the founding Chairperson of the SWRU and was therefore in a position in 1994 after the cancellation of the Women’s World Cup in Holland to say “Let’s have it here, it’s only a tournament”, and oversee the 1994 World Championships held in Scotland at 90 days notice.

‘I have 24 caps for Scotland. I’m now semi retired, work as a gardener and part time student at St Andrews University.’

Screenwriter Kim said she was immediately gripped by the unfairness of what happened in 1994.

‘The amazing women who, through  sheer resilience and determination, organised the Women’s World Cup in Scotland in such a tight time scale, are now rightly recognised and lauded by Scottish Rugby,’ she said.

‘What they did saved not just tournament, it saved the sport for a generation of women.

‘To save the World Cup in 90 days is nothing short of miraculous.  It’s a privilege to be able to dramatise the difficulties they encountered and their successful struggle to overcome them.’

Colin Rigby, President of Scottish Rugby said: ‘In 1994 we helped the SWRU (Scottish Women’s Rugby Union) who were associate members of the SRU to save what was effectively the Women’s World Cup, after the scheduled hosts, Holland, could not proceed.

‘It provided the foundations for growing the game both in Scotland and globally ever since.

‘The matches held at clubs; Boroughmuir, Edinburgh Academicals, Gala, Kirkcaldy, Melrose, Stirling County and West of Scotland inspired Scottish women and girls to take up rugby.

‘I am convinced that if the 1994 Women’s World Cup had not happened, then the legacy and momentum for Women’s rugby would not have enjoyed the massive kick-start those determined pioneers bequeathed.

‘Time now shows us how important 1994 was, and I am very much looking forward to attending the show and hope that the Scottish Rugby family fully supports this amazing achievement of telling the story from the players’ and organisers’ perspective.’

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