How to feed the next generation of rugby players

NZR     26 May 2014     NZR

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

Diets high in carbohydrates, moderate in protein and low in fat are designed to maximise the fuel put into the engines of the players who represent the next generation of Test rugby stars.

And to accommodate the growing cosmopolitanism of world rugby, all food needs to be Halal friendly.

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 2650 kgs of potatoes, 760 kgs of pasta and 927 kgs of red meat.

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 skim 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 hot chips, pasta, rice, cheeses and fruits.

At dinner 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 more chicken offered for lunch, with pasta or potato salads, green salads, baked beans and yoghurts.

Once the tournament is over for teams, the stops are let off and their final dinner will include barbeque food, hamburgers and chips, or pizzas, and tacos and something more traditional as a local speciality.