By Abi Curran, Sportsbeat
Elinor Snowsill may have missed the British & Irish Lions boat as a player but she has a firm focus on ensuring there will be a strong Welsh representation in the inaugural women’s squad.
The first-ever female touring party will travel to New Zealand for the three-Test Howden British & Irish Lions Women’s Series in September 2027 following a successful feasibility study into a potential women’s tour.
Snowsill, 34, won 76 Wales caps before retiring in August 2023 and now works as a player development lead for the East Wales Player Development Centre.
England are currently the dominant force among the home nations but the former fly-half is insistent the 2027 touring squad will not just be the Red Roses show.
“I feel very passionately that it’s not just going to be a full England side,” she said.
“For me, you only have to look at Premiership Women’s Rugby to see that there are Welsh, Scottish and Irish players performing very well over there.
“You look last year at how many of those girls got player of the matches for their clubs, in which England players are also playing.
“To witness and work with girls on the pathway that could potentially be a part of the Lions Women’s squad is going to be incredible.”
— British & Irish Lions (@lionsofficial) January 17, 2024
The first of Snowsill’s four World Cups came in 2010, at which point a women’s Lions tour seemed an unthinkable prospect.
Players taking out loans to play for their country was not an uncommon occurrence but the speed of professionalisation has been rapid in recent years and Snowsill believes the trajectory will continue to go in only one direction.
“I’m very realistic in the fact that now is the right time for it,” she said.
“It would have been incredible to be involved but I think it’s the right time for the players and it’ll be incredibly exciting for them.
“Back at the start of my career, it would not have been feasible to add in another tour away from home.
“People used to have to take loans out to cover their mortgage while they were away.
“It’s taken the Unions to professionalise the game to then make this tour feasible.
“Being part of a Lions tour would be the pinnacle of any player’s career. It would be a huge honour.”
Howden is the Principal Partner of the British and Irish Lions. Through their support Howden aim to contribute to the long-term sustainability of the game and to leave a positive legacy, spanning from grassroots to the elite levels, through the duration of the partnership.