Sheila Begbie

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Sheila Begbie MBE is a Scottish footballer and sports administrator who is currently Director of Domestic Rugby at the Scottish Rugby Union (SRU). She played as a central defender for Edinburgh Dynamos and the Scotland women's national team, making 25 international appearances after debuting for Scotland aged 15. She later entered football administration, spending sixteen years as head of Girls' and Women's Football at the Scottish Football Association (SFA) before switching to rugby union with the SRU in 2014.

Early life and football career[edit]

Sheila Begbie grew up in the Drylaw area of Edinburgh and attended Craigroyston High School in the early 1970s. She began playing football and other sports in the street, in an era when this was considered unusual for a girl. At the age of 13, she heard about a local women's football team, Edinburgh Dynamos – one of only eight such teams in Scotland at the time – and began to play in organised football.[1]

Aged 15, she made her debut for the Scotland national team in 1973, going on to make 25 appearances as a defender. Her first appearance was in an 8–0 defeat against England in Nuneaton, but she captained Scotland in their first ever win against England, 2–1 in Dundee in 1977. She scored for Scotland and also conceded an own goal in a 3-1 defeat to Italy at the San Siro in September 1974.[2]

Although she was later offered opportunities to play semi-professionally in Italy and the United States, Begbie decided to stay in Scotland and concentrate on her career as a physical education teacher.[1] In 1995, she became one of the first Scottish women to obtain an A Licence for coaching.[3]

Administrative career[edit]

Begbie was Girls’ and Women’s Football Co-ordinator with the TeamSport Scotland initiative of Sportscotland prior to becoming Head of Girls' and Women's Football at the Scottish Football Association (SFA) in 1998. She was involved in the establishment of the SFA Women's National Performance Centre at the University of Stirling. She also worked with UEFA in a number of roles, including as head of their Women's Committee and as a Match Delegate.[4]

Begbie left the SFA in 2014, switching sports to take up a new appointment with the Scottish Rugby Union (SRU) as Head of Women's Rugby.[5][6] In 2017 she took up a new role at the SRU, becoming Director of Domestic Rugby, with a remit to develop the sport at grassroots level.[7] She will retire from the SRU in the summer of 2021.[2]


Begbie was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2001 New Year Honours list, for her services to women's football.[8]


  1. ^ a b Davidson, Gina (28 October 2013). "SFA women's chief says hails good times for Scots". Edinburgh Evening News. Archived from the original on 22 November 2018. Retrieved 11 March 2021.
  2. ^ a b Bean, Graham (15 February 2021). "Sheila Begbie, pivotal figure in women's sport in Scotland, to retire from rugby post". The Scotsman. Edinburgh. Retrieved 11 March 2021.
  3. ^ Fraser, Karen (2020). "Sisters Doing it for themselves: the rich history of women's football in Scotland from the 1960s to 2020". Sport in History. 40:4: 465.
  4. ^ "Head of Women's Rugby appointed". Scottish Rugby Union. 29 May 2014. Retrieved 28 November 2017.
  5. ^ Black, Gareth. "Sheila Begbie quits SFA to head up women's rugby". The Scotsman. Edinburgh. Retrieved 28 November 2017.
  6. ^ "Sheila Begbie leaves women's football for Scottish Rugby role". BBC Sport. 29 May 2014. Retrieved 28 November 2017.
  7. ^ "Begbie to spearhead development of grassroots rugby". Scottish Rugby Union. 31 August 2017. Retrieved 28 November 2017.
  8. ^ "Good year for Scots women". BBC Sport. 30 December 2000. Retrieved 28 November 2017.