- 54-year-old Louise Snelson has completed her dream of playing for Cornwall
- Rugby has always been part of her life
Pulling on the black and gold Cornwall shirt has always been the dream for 54-year-old Louise Snelson.
Known by her teammates as ‘Mother’, Snelson was reintroduced to the sport just three years ago and this season was selected to represent Cornwall in the Gill Burns County Championship.
It completes a whirlwind journey for Snelson for whom rugby has always been in the blood.
Like father like daughter
“My father was a co-founder of St Just RFC in Cornwall so I was going down to my local club before I was even born,” says Snelson, who now has three children herself as well as grandchildren.
“I spent my entire upbringing around the rugby club and so it has played a big part in my life for a long time.”
She began playing for St Just at the age of 31 but life began to get in the way and for almost 20 years Snelson hung up her boots, before a committee meeting at Penzance and Newlyn RFC resurrected her playing career.
“We were sort of joking about starting a women’s team but then we thought, why not? And we arranged a training session.”
That was three years ago and since then Snelson has become one of the most recognisable figures in Cornish rugby.
A normal week sees her train at Penzance on a Wednesday before driving over 50 miles on a Thursday to train with the St Austell Angels.
She plays for the Angels every weekend and, while preferring to play at centre, she has covered hooker, second row and even on the wing.
On top of that she has lost over four stone since returning to rugby and has played for numerous local teams who were short of players.
It has been non-stop since she dusted off her boots but Snelson wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Sometimes when I’m in the changing room I get imposter syndrome. I think, ‘what am I doing. I’m over 50 and I’m about to play rugby, I shouldn’t be here.’
“But then I get out there and it feels right. It feels like I should be doing it. It is hard to explain that but I think it comes from feeling part of one big family. That is what rugby gives you.”
The ultimate goal became a reality last season when Snelson was selected to play in Cornwall’s development team, while this year she was invited to be part of their County Championship squad.
“When you are Cornish through and through like me, pulling on that black and gold shirt is just amazing.
“It is a very special feeling. I don’t have any aims beyond that in the sport. If I can still play at 60 that would be great but I’m just enjoying it.”
And while Snelson says her family are proud of her achievements, her motivation to continue comes from within.
“I know it makes them proud but I don’t do it for them. I do it for me. Life if short, very short and you need to do everything you can to live it to the full.”
So after a lifetime spent involved in the game, Snelson’s advice to those thinking about taking up rugby is clear.
“Rugby is like nothing else. You will make friends for life and if you want to be part of it then I promise there will always be people there to support you.”
Wise words from a stalwart of the game but after all, Mother knows best.