Elinor Snowsill Admits It’s A Bittersweet Goodbye To Wales

Elinor Snowsill of Wales. Pic: Getty Images.

Elinor Snowsill Admits It’s A Bittersweet Goodbye To Wales

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By Hannah Blackwell

Elinor Snowsill has revealed she is not sure she is leaving the Wales squad at the right time.

The veteran playmaker – one of the most influential players ever to play for her country – has mixed feelings about leaving the field after 14 years at the top.

“It is bittersweet to announce my retirement from international rugby at this point,” says Snowsill.

“After years of being on a rollercoaster full of highs and many lows, it feels like we are really gaining momentum as a squad and are getting close to achieving great things within the game.

“I have no doubt the squad will go on to push rugby in Wales to new heights in the XV tournament, the 2025 Rugby World Cup and beyond.

The No.10 has announced her retirement from professional rugby as a player with immediate effect.

Snowsill’s Test career has stretched over a decade. She made her Wales debut against Sweden at St Helen’s in Swansea in 2009. Her final cap was against Italy in the 36-10 victory in Parma when she played a key role in Wales’ best Six Nations campaign for 14 years.

The 34-year-old played in four World Cups – 2010, 2014, 2017 and 2021 – and was part of the recent Wales squad to qualify for the new Tier 1 Global WXV tournament, featuring the six best teams in the world.

The fly-half won 76 Wales caps, played for Wales in the Commonwealth Games in Australia in 2018 and toured USA and England with the Barbarians.

She saw the game move from amateur to professional and was one of first 12 players to be awarded a full-time professional contract by the Welsh Rugby Union in 2022.

Snowsill will take up a new role with Cardiff Met University as the player development lead for the new East Wales player development centre, a partnership with Cardiff Met and the WRU, to identify and coach the next generation of Welsh rugby players.

“I would like to thank a few people who have been pivotal to my rugby career over the past 16 years,” she added.

“To begin with, I would not have made the enlightened decision to swap the round ball for the oval ball if it weren’t for Welsh legend Catrin Edwards starting a touch rugby team in Ysgol Plasmawr and persuading me to play.

“As a teenager, watching her run out in Cardiff Arms Park to play against France in the Six Nations gave me a very real role model, something that was lacking at the time in women’s sport.

“From there, I must thank Sophie Bennett, the former Wales women’s performance manager, for spotting me playing touch rugby in a Welsh school’s tournament and persuading me to head down to my local club Cardiff Quins to give contact a go.

“She 100 percent persuaded the Wales U19 coaches at the time to select me even though it was clear I had no idea what I was doing, and again called me back into the U20 squad a few years later. I would not have persisted with rugby if it wasn’t for her.

“It has been a career full of highs and lows. Throughout it all, my family have been there for me. From New Zealand to Canada and everywhere in between, they have been at almost every single international 15s game and 7s tournament.

“To my brother Aron and my father Gary, thank you for all the hours you have spent kicking a ball with me since childhood. You have both been my best kicking coaches over the years, if only I’d listened to half of what you told me.

“To my mother, Nerys.. diolch am bopeth. Thank you for the 1000s of Welsh cakes you have made for the teams over the years, thank you for being U20s tour Mam in Canada and making all our beds, thank you for passionately waving your inflatable daffodil during every single anthem to make sure I know where you’re sat, and thank you for showing me what true strength and resilience looks like.

“Thank you to the coaches who have supported me and had faith in me over the years. To Dave and Tom at Bristol Bears, thank you for persuading me to keep playing two years ago, when I had hit rock bottom in my rugby career and was ready to give it all up. I wouldn’t have known what it was like to be a professional athlete if it wasn’t for you.

“Thank you to Ioan [Cunningham] for having faith in me, challenging me to be better and supporting me to push on to new heights in the past 18 months. You and Shaun [Connor] have really brought out the best in me both on and off the pitch.

“Thank you to the players who came before me. The women who worked tirelessly to keep Wales women on the map. Who juggled full time careers with international commitments, without any of the recognition and support we now get. Although not many may know their names, their legacy is woven into the fibre of the shirts we wear today.

“Finally, thank you to the loyal, passionate Welsh supporters. It hasn’t been the easiest ride supporting us over the years, but I have no doubt you will be rewarded for your unwavering commitment by the continued success of the team.

“It’s been one hell of a journey! Diolch yn fawr.”

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