It has been a tumultuous week for Elinor Snowsill.
While the Wales and Bristol fly-half was coming to terms with so much uncertainty ahead, trolls on social media told her they did not care.
And so the 31-year-old spoke out on Twitter using #icare, a hashtag which has now been shared by several of the sport’s biggest names.
Snowsill wrote: “Do those men trolling articles about women’s rugby genuinely think we are going to believe them when they say they don’t care?
“The simple act of commenting to declare the statement proves the opposite to be true.
“‘#icare about my sport, as do millions of others.”
Organisers are aiming to start the Women’s Six Nations in spring or summer but the postponement will affect preparations for the World Cup, due to start in September.
With most Premier 15s players being amateur, Covid-19 testing has not been possible in the league and so it was decided a break was necessary to stop the spread of the virus.
And so while she finds herself in a precarious professional position, like so many others in the pandemic, Snowsill has also had to deal with ongoing social media trolling.
She told BBC Sport of “relentless” online abuse in August 2019, after the BBC Elite British Sportswomen’s Survey found that 30% of female athletes had been trolled on social media.
The abuse has not gone away and, though Snowsill says it does not affect her personally, she felt compelled to speak out to protect future stars of the sport.
“It doesn’t bother me that these people don’t care about our sport,” she told The Women’s Sport Show.
“What bothers me is the environment it creates. Young boys and girls looking at that post and seeing how many people don’t care about it.
“It’s the values it’s bringing up the next generation of players with.”
This is not the first time female rugby players have stood up for their sport.
When Ireland used players to launch their men’s kit but models to launch the women’s jersey in August, Wasps player Florence Williams’ tweet sparked a viral campaign.
#IAmEnough was used by players to discuss the issue of body image in women’s rugby, with Scotland’s Rhona Lloyd one of several internationals to lend her voice to the cause.
“The fact these hashtags are gaining so much momentum shows how far our sport has come,” Snowsill continued.
“People do care now, enough to gather that momentum.
“It’s a form of bullying and we’ve got to call them out for it.”
Reaction to #icare
England World Cup winner Tamara Taylor tweeted: “Women’s sport is sport. Isn’t it time to just accept that?”
World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont also used the hashtag in reference to a story on recently retired England international Katy Daley-Mclean, calling the fly-half “an inspiration to the next generation of girls and boys”.
Former men’s Premiership player and Bristol Bears Women assistant coach Tom Lindsay showed his support.
He wrote: “Every day this incredible group of athletes keeps raising the bar, whilst breaking through adversity and batting off negative comments.”
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