EVERY woman will be familiar with being told they can’t do something, particularly by older men stuck in their ways, and the fire it can light inside to prove them wrong.

In the early 1990s, the International Rugby Board (IRB) refused to endorse the first two Women’s Rugby World Cups and in 1994, that lack of approval led to the last-minute cancellation of the second edition of the tournament due to be hosted in the Netherlands.

Scotland had qualified for the competition for the first time just a year after beating Ireland in their first international at Raeburn Place in Edinburgh and were primed and ready to take on the best in the world, only for the tournament to be pulled from underneath their feet.

Enter Scotland winger Sue Brodie who, in a Leith pub with her teammates, piped up with the idea of hosting it in Scotland instead.

In an incredible 90 days, the tournament was salvaged by the Scotland team who all chipped in £400 in the hope they would make it back.

Eleven of the original 16 entrants took part alongside a Scottish Students team to even out the fixture list and it remains to this day the only Women’s Rugby World Cup that has made a profit.

The inspiring story is now set to be brought to life 30 years later in a theatre production by ex-Scotland captain Sandra Colamartino, Brodie and screenwriter Kim Millar, who spoke to The National about taking the tale onto the stage for International Women’s Day.

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“When Sandra [Colamartino] approached me I didn’t know anything about rugby and I definitely didn’t know about this story” said Millar, who has written storylines for Hollyoaks, Waterloo Road and River City.

“What struck me was the unfairness of it [being cancelled]. The Scottish squad had been training for a full year and they were gutted. What’s the point in working your backsides off if you’ve not got a tournament to compete in?

“I just thought the magnitude of what they achieved in that timescale was incredible. If they hadn’t sat in that pub in Leith and said we’ll do it ourselves, there would have been people not getting a chance to play for their country and girls coming up who wouldn’t get the chance.”

With being used to writing stories about fictional people, this has been the first time Millar has had to bring a story to life involving real people, many of whom will be watching the production of 90 Days when it is performed at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh across the weekend of April 12 to 14. 

She admitted one of the initial challenges with the story was making it appeal to people who were not into rugby.

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And while the original songs of Glasgow composer Andy McGregor have been brought in to add plenty of energy to the production, Millar is hoping audiences will see the story transcends the sport covering themes of misogyny, defiance and determination.

“I think it’s about women finding a sense of place and focus and family,” added Millar.

“Sue and Sandra told me that team was a place where they were meeting people they hadn’t met the like of anywhere else and they all backed each other up and they’re all friends 30 years on.

“It’s about something much bigger than playing a sport.

“They were told ‘no, you can’t do that’, which is kind of shocking in 1994 and I hope everyone in the Traverse will see it’s about young women standing up to an establishment that told them they could not do something, they could not play a sport they loved.

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“I think every single young woman who has been told she can’t do something by an older man will recognise that. It's about being told you have no right to do this and turning round and saying, we’re doing it, and they did it very diplomatically and beautifully.”

Scotland never went on to win the tournament, with the trophy eventually being lifted by their fiercest rivals England, but nevertheless the team are now regarded by many as having been vital in ensuring the future of the Women’s Rugby World Cup which, funnily enough, had been endorsed by the IRB by the time its next edition came around in 1998. 

By that point, Scotland had won their one and only Grand Slam having beaten Ireland, Wales, France and England that year.

Some say success is a lagging indicator of decisions made long before and it stands to reason that, had the team not stepped in to save the 1994 tournament, such a historic set of results may never have occurred years later.

Millar certainly credits the team with having saved the sport for a generation of women who at the time were treated as second-class citizens within rugby circles.

She said: “I hope I’ve got across the magnitude of what they did.

“I remember Sue showed me a photo of them all playing and there were girls on the sidelines watching eating crisps. That’s what made her realise it was all worth it because they could see rugby played at a world-class level.

“They saved the sport for a whole generation of women and I hope I do them justice."