Women's Six Nations: Combining rugby with cooking 70 meals

By Sara OrchardBBC Sport
Elinor Snowsill
Elinor Snowsill and her Wales team-mates are hoping to qualify for the 2017 World Cup through their placing at this year's Six Nations - needing better results than Italy and Scotland to secure the spot

Before joining up with her Wales team-mates for the Six Nations, fly-half Elinor Snowsill talks to me while cooking 40 chicken breasts.

They are not all for the 25-year-old - she is completing a batch of orders for her Cardiff healthy meal delivery service.

Having set up Onest Food 18 months ago, "a lot of people" advised Snowsill to give up rugby but she refused, saying: "It's a challenge, I do like a challenge.

"For me rugby really helps me with the business - if I was working for someone else I wouldn't be in control of my workload during the Six Nations. This way I can be."

The Radyr resident made her Wales debut against Sweden in 2009 and has been a regular fixture in both the XVs and Sevens squads since, winning 30 caps.

After graduating with a degree in psychology from Loughborough University in 2010, Snowsill has been in the catering business for just over a year, having started out with a healthy food van parked outside gyms.

Because she wanted to continue playing rugby at weekends, she knew the business had to develop on weekdays and a chance conversation sent her in a new direction.

"A friend said she wanted to lose a bit of weight before going on holiday so I wrote her a meal plan and she said 'this is great, but I have no time to cook - why can't you just bring the food to me?'" said Snowsill.

Elinor Snowsill
Elinor Snowsill started out in the catering business by making and selling her own food out of a van

Working Monday to Friday when not on international duty, she delivers up to 70 fresh, healthy meals - cooked out of her home kitchen - to clients across Cardiff every week.

A group of teachers at one Welsh school, Ysgol Plasmawr, enjoy her food so much they've now replaced "fish and chips Friday" with her delivered meals.

The food van will be off the road for the Six Nations, but when Snowsill isn't playing for Wales she often pulls in team-mates Carys Phillips and Dyddgu Hywel to help out.

The rest of the squad, it seems, are just keen to eat her food.

"Kierra Bevan, our young scrum-half, goes on about my invention, 'the flat egg'," she said.

"It's an egg mixture similar to an omelette and you spread it on the griddle really thinly then add all the ingredients along the middle and wrap it up. She's in love with it."

It's not unusual for some of the international squad who travel across Wales and England for training to order salad boxes from Snowsill to avoid petrol-station meals on the way home.

"It's not massive with the girls," she said. "I'm not a supplier, it's just as and when it suits them."

The fly-half, who plays her club rugby for Bristol, counts players from across all the home nations teams among her friends.

And those contacts paid off late last year when she had a blocked sink at home. One jokey message to Marlie Packer - not just a World Cup winner with England in 2014 but also a plumber - and help was at hand.

Marlie Packer
England's Marlie Packer came to Snowsill's aid when she needed a plumber

"We had a useless plumber who hadn't turned up for a week. I just happened, in my frustration, to Snapchat her saying: 'Wish you lived in Cardiff'. She replied with a picture saying: 'Coming across the bridge. I'm visiting a friend in Cardiff. I'm on my way'.

"It was brilliant - I'm very happy with the job."

For now, though, rugby is Snowsill's priority as Wales attempt to qualify for next year's World Cup through their placing at this year's Six Nations.

To do so, they need better results than Italy and Scotland.

Snowsill's appearance from the bench couldn't help Wales as they lost 21-3 to reigning champions Ireland in their opening match at the weekend.

Italy and Scotland also lost, heaping greater importance on Wales' next match - against Scotland at The Gnoll on Sunday, 14 February.

"It's probably more at the back of the coaches' minds than ours," Snowsill said of the World Cup target.

"We just focus on performance. If you get bogged down in the bigger picture, then you can get distracted."