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Elinor Snowsill

Elinor Snowsill has called time on her playing career

Snowsill calls time on stellar playing career

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Wales legend Elinor Snowsill has announced her retirement from professional rugby as a player with immediate effect.

Snowsill’s Test career has stretched over a decade having 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.

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Snowsill, 34, 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.

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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.

‘Snowy’ retires having established herself as one of the most respected figures in rugby, inside and outside of Wales, and leaves a lasting legacy for the next generation of Welsh internationals to build on.

She 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.

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

Elinor Snowsill

Elinor Snowsill made her Wales debut in 2009 against Sweden

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

Elinor Snowsill

Elinor Snowsill has been at the forefront of the Wales Women’s team for more than a dedade

Ioan Cunningham, Wales Head coach, said: “It has been a privilege to coach Snowy and it is only right that Wales celebrates a player who has given so much to the jersey. Her diligence, willingness to learn and professionalism are an example to the current squad and to any young player who wants to play for Wales.

“I know how highly regarded she is as a player and a person in rugby circles inside and outside of Wales. Her loyalty and resilience are an example to us all.

“Snowy has always had a very real sense of the players who went before her and representing them. She is now part of that special band of players, and I know the current squad and those who follow will feel the same about the legacy she has left.

“While it is always sad to see players retire, knowing she will not be lost to the game is great news. Her experience, communication skills and understanding of the game will prove invaluable to the players she will coach at Cardiff Met.”

Nigel Walker, WRU Interim CEO and Performance Director, said: “Elinor’s standing in the game is without question and she has been one of the ‘game-changers’ for Welsh rugby and the women’s game. Her application, attitude and resilience were made for professional rugby.

“Personally, I am sad to see her step away from the playing ranks but am delighted that she will be sharing her knowledge with the young talent coming through in Cardiff Met’s Player Development Centre.

“To have someone so experienced and attuned to the demands and needs of professional rugby will be incredibly valuable to all the young players now playing the game and that have been inspired by how she played on the field and carried herself off the field.”

Gareth Baber, Cardiff Met’s Director of Rugby System, added: “We’d like to extend our congratulations to Elinor on her incredible career and the impact she has had during such a pivotal time for the women’s game.

“As one of the first players to be awarded a professional contract in Wales, there is no doubt her playing career leaves a lasting legacy. Looking forward, we’re delighted to welcome Elinor to Cardiff Met. The PDC is a hugely exciting project for us and the WRU in developing female rugby players.

“Elinor’s experience will be invaluable to the players who are part of the PDC. I’m also excited to see her work alongside Lisa Newton, our Women’s Head Coach, to develop the PDC and the Cardiff Met Women’s Performance Programme collaboratively.”

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