THE first captain of the Scotland women’s rugby team is aiming to stage a play about the inspiring story of the 1994 World Cup.

Sandra Colamartino was part of the squad that famously saved the tournament after it was cancelled just weeks before it was due to take place in the Netherlands.

Just a year after Scotland played their first match against Ireland at Raeburn Place in Edinburgh, the players had their sights firmly set on the competition.

The National: Sandra Colamartino (front row second in from left) The team in 1993 after their first match.Sandra Colamartino (front row second in from left) The team in 1993 after their first match. (Image: Supplied)

But as the organisers failed to get official endorsement of the event as the Women’s World Cup from the International Rugby Board at the time, the unions of some countries refused to pay team expenses or withdrew their entries.

It eventually fell apart, but Colamartino recalls the moment steely player Sue Brodie stepped up and convinced the team to put it on in Scotland.

“In a pub in Leith, Sue called a meeting and said we should host it,” Colamartino told The National. “I thought she was insane, but her thought was if people were coming to Holland, it’s not that far geographically to just move it.

The National:

“She just went ‘let’s do it’. And the reason why we could do it is because the SRU [Scottish Rugby Union] had said they didn’t mind us doing our own thing.

"We weren’t affiliated so they had no means to stop us – not that they wanted to but we just didn’t need to ask anyone.

"Sue put out faxes to all the countries and said ‘we’re going to host it, please come, we can help with accommodation’. It was ridiculous.”

Given that the SRU had decided not to give any backing to the team when it formed, there was no money to work with and each player had to put in £400 – with Colamartino borrowing hers from her parents – in the hope they would make it back from the tournament.

Colamartino added: “I don’t know how we had the confidence to think we could pull it off with no money but we all got it back. The tournament made a profit, incredibly.

"We had 5000 people at the final. It’s a truly empowering story of a different time but also a success story.”

She is now in the early stages of writing a play about the tournament which she hopes to stage at the 2024 Edinburgh Festival to mark its 30th anniversary.

The former scrum-half, who is based in the capital, had a few thoughts on how best to share the story as she was keen to reach people who wouldn’t necessarily watch a documentary.

She said: “I started off trying to write a screenplay before lockdown but I quickly realised how long it would take. So just in the last year I thought about putting it on at the festival.

The National:

"The rugby clubs can be a good vehicle for performance and then someone seeing it might then want to do something else with it.

“I want people who don’t necessarily even like sport to just enjoy the story. It’s incredible and it’s Scottish. We’ve had quite useful talks with the SRU who are very interested now. They have said they will potentially help us get the message out.

“I’ve got an idea in my head which is focusing on a couple of characters.

"So that’s myself as someone who has dreamt of doing something but never been able to – a coming-of-age story – and then in contrast the other character is Sue, which will involve a bit of tale of the injustice she felt.

"So I want to create a play about the journey both these characters went on but in a way that’s entertaining.”

COLAMARTINO went to many rugby games with her dad when she was young but was never able to be involved because, despite the hype around the men’s game following Scotland’s Grand Slam win at the 1990 Five Nations. It was just not something women did.

But eventually, after spotting an advert Brodie had put in the Edinburgh Evening News looking for female players, she was able to realise her dream.

Within three years, Colamartino and her teammates formed Edinburgh Women and played against university sides before the time came to pull on the thistle for Scotland in 1993.

She said: “My claim to fame was I was the first captain and I scored all the points in the first game – a bit greedy, perhaps!

"We won 10-0. Kim Littlejohn became the captain after that but I got another 20-odd caps.”

The press were largely dismissive of women’s rugby before 1994 came around and things started to change.

Scotland saving the world was a headline newspapers could get on board with and Colamartino, who worked at The Scotsman in design at the time, was not afraid to twist editors’ arms.

She is now excited to share with people what the game meant to her, Brodie and the rest of the crew, along with a few outrageous stories from the legendary tournament.

“I want to give something back to the rugby community,” she said. “Whether I can pull it off I don’t know but I’m going for it.

“Some of the things that happened were completely mad, The Russian team arrived with nowhere to stay and no money, just some bottles of vodka. The university gave them accommodation and Pizza Express said they’d send them pizzas every night!

“I hope people will come out of the play astounded by it.”