Players show a big appetite for JWC 2014

(Other) Monday 9 June 2014
 Players show a big appetite for JWC 2014
Feeding the teams at JWC 2014 is not the same as every day guests for hotels in Auckland

For a few weeks in June, chefs at several hotels in the Auckland region will be mindful of their tasks as members of the 12 visiting IRB Junior World Championship 2014 teams look to sustain themselves for what is the biggest event of their young rugby careers.

Diets that are high in carbohydrates, moderate in protein and low in fat are designed to maximise the fuel put into the engines of the players who are the future stars of world rugby.

The demands on chefs and their staff are high. Food needs to be fresh and natural while being cooked to ensure the maximum amounts of nutrients are retained.

Artificial additives and preservatives are out and while flavour is a must, there shouldn't be too much in the way of spices or curries due to the potential conflict with a player’s digestive system.

In catering for the two teams they will be hosting, the Rendezvous Grand Hotel Auckland expects to go through 2,650kg of potatoes, 760kg of pasta and 927kg of red meat.

Multiple that by six and the 12 teams at JWC 2014 could get through an incredible 15,900kg of potatoes, 4,560kg of pasta and 5,562kg of red meat over the course of the tournament.

Throw into the mix the teams getting through potentially 1,500 eggs a day and more than 25,000 bananas in the duration of the Under 20 tournament and it is a busy time for the hotel chefs.

So what are the demands of a regular non-playing day for players?

At breakfast they will be offered a selection of assorted cereals, fresh and preserved fruits. They will have a choice of breads, full cream or skimmed milk and yoghurt, two types of juices and the usual assortment of cooked breakfasts with baked beans, spaghetti, eggs, grilled tomatoes or mushrooms with bacon on alternate days. Assorted muffins will also be part of the mix along with crumpets, bagels and fruit breads.

Lunch features another bread selection with an option of bread rolls. Soup, low fat of course, three types of salad, cold meats or fish, one type of cooked meat, vegetables, potatoes – but no chips, pasta, rice, cheeses and fruit.

At dinner there will be variations on a similar theme with more choices of cooked meats and dessert offerings are on the menu to round out an energy-charged day.

Match days require there to be more chicken offered for lunch, with pasta or potato salads, green salads, baked beans and yoghurts.

The hotels will have worked closely with the teams in the months building up to the tournament as well as during their time in New Zealand to ensure their nutritional requirements are met, but what lessons can your average player learn from the professionals?

South Africa's strength and conditioning coach in New Zealand is Warren Adams and he explained what the four key focus areas of nutrition are for them and some general guidelines.

PROTEIN - Whey protein is extremely popular and is probably the most important nutrient in a rugby player's diet. As a rule of thumb, consume approximately 2g of protein per kg of body weight to aid your training and recovery.

FATS - Good fats (unsaturated) are often wrongly avoided in an athlete's diet. These act as a fuel source for long duration exercise, although try to avoid high amounts just before or after intense exercise.

CARBOHYDRATES - This is an important source of energy, especially with the short turnaround time between matches at the Junior World Championship. A good rule of thumb for rugby players to follow is about 7g of carbohydrate per kg of body weight on training and match days.

HYDRATION - The most important area to concentrate on all day, every day, especially on your training and match days is hydration. Weighing yourself before and after training to see how much fluid you will have lost and will need to replace. A 1kg body weight loss = 1.5 to two litres of fluid to be replaced, depending on weather conditions. It is recommended to drink water throughout the day, rather than a lot at once.